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Philadelphia Zoo Welcomes First African Lion Cubs Since 1996

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Philadelphia Zoo is welcoming four adorable new arrivals.

On Monday, the Zoo announced its four-year-old African lion, Tajiri, had given birth to four cubs. The cubs reportedly came into the world during the early morning hours of June 26th and are the first African lion cubs to be born at the Philly Zoo since 1996.

“We’re very excited to welcome Tajiri’s new cubs, the first lions born at Philadelphia Zoo in 18 years,” says Kevin Murphy, Philadelphia Zoo’s General Curator. “We work with the Species Survival Plan® (SSP) breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), whose goal is to manage populations of threatened, endangered and other species across AZA zoos, to maintain long-term genetic and demographic viability. This birth, Tajiri’s first, is a significant contribution to the lion population in the U.S., and we are cautiously optimistic as Tajiri continues to be a fantastic mother.”

The cubs’ father, 6-year-old Makini, is another resident of the Philadelphia zoo’s First Niagara Big Cat Falls.

Zoo officials say both mom and cubs are doing well. They also say they’re monitoring Tajiri in an off-exhibit den in order to give her “almost complete privacy.”

And if you’re anxious to get a closer look at the four baby lions, you’ll need to be patient: A public debut is not yet confirmed and won’t happen for at least three months.

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