Lion cub triplets and baby giraffe make public debut at Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Lion cub triplets and baby giraffe make public debut at Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Triplet lion cubs have made their public debut, just a few hundred meters away from a wobbly newborn giraffe, at Dubbo’s Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

It comes after the giraffe was born on the weekend in front of very surprised zoo guests.

The three female lion cubs were born in April but have been kept away from the public until now, to bond with their parents and be vaccinated.

First-time parents Marion and Lwazi accompanied their little ones out of their enclosure where they quickly became the center of attention.

“Keepers and guests loved seeing the cubs climbing the trees and rocks, although Marion appears to be on high alert as a first-time mother with these especially confident cubs,” lion supervisor Justine Powell said.

The lion cubs climbed trees and tackled each other on their first public playdate.(Supplied: Rick Stevens)

“The cubs are very adventurous and playful and love having their dad Lwazi out with them to practice their pouncing, stalking and play-fighting skills with.”

The babies are the first lion cubs to be born at the zoo since 2016.

“The last time we bred here, we got four boys so the tides have tuned,” Ms Powell said.

“It’s great because they are easier to manage for us and they make the force of the pride, because the females are the ones who control the pride.”

Finding their teeth

The cubs are now 16 weeks old and are putting on about one kilogram per week.

Two lion cubs on a log stalking their sister who is out of sight.
The playful lion cubs show off their stalking skills.(Supplied: Rick Stevens)

They are off soft food and enjoying their very first carcasses.

“The cubs have recently progressed from things like mince, that is easy to eat… onto eating carcasses,” Ms Powell said.

A mother lion stands behind three lion cubs who stand at the entrance to a public enclosure nervously
The lion cubs were initially shy about entering the public enclosure.(Supplied: Rick Stevens)

“They are pretty much onto an adult diet, just smaller pieces.

“Today they had beef with bone in it, so they are getting used to ripping the meat off the bone.”

Name a cub

Two of the cubs are being named by the zoo’s lion keepers and Taronga Foundation supports.

But the zoo has launched a competition with the public to name the third cub.

A close up of a lion cub
One of the three female lion cubs enjoys the western NSW sunshine.(Supplied: Rick Stevens)

The cubs and their parents will be on display daily from 11.15am to 2.15pm, and this will slowly extend as their confidence grows.

“Each of the cubs have very different personalities and we are lovingly observing more of that as the cubs explore their habitat,” Ms Powell said.

Visitors watch giraffe birth

On Saturday, a visitor to the zoo alerted the front desk that a giraffe had just given birth in view of amazed guests.

A newborn giraffe calf standing near a tree
This giraffe calf was born in front of amazed zoo visitors.(Supplied: Taronga Western Plains Zoo)

After struggling to stand, the newborn giraffe needed a nudge from mother Mvita’s gentle hooves to help it find its wobbly legs.

Giraffe keepers agreed that Wayo, meaning “footprint” in Swahili, was a fitting name for the new arrival.

It came just one month after the birth of another giraffe calf at Western Plains Zoo.

Another giraffe at the zoo is also currently pregnant — a positive sign for its breeding program.

The zoo said the species was currently facing “silent extinction” worldwide, and the program aimed to help it bounce back.

Giraffe numbers have been declining in the wild over the past decade due to habitat encroachment, snares, civil unrest and poaching.

The wild population is estimated at less than 117,000, indicating a decline of 40 per cent over 30 years.

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