Lion Cubs Born at Naples Zoo

Naples, Florida - Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is celebrating the birth of three African lion cubs. The first cub was born on May 13th and cubs two and three were born the next morning on May 14th to first time mother, 13-year-old Shani. This is the first time lion cubs have been born at Naples Zoo in over 30 years. Shani and her mate, 10-year-old Masamba, were specifically matched by the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan® (SSP). The SSP is a cooperatively managed breeding program that works to create sustainable populations of threatened and endangered species.

“The pair has been recommended for breeding since 2013 so we’ve been waiting for these cubs for a long time,” said Liz Harmon, Naples Zoo Director of Animal Programs. “Although Shani is older than the average first time lion mother, the cubs are all doing very well and it is wonderful to see her being such a good mom.”

Zoo veterinarian Dr. Lizzy Arnett-Chinn and Naples Zoo’s animal care team are cautiously optimistic that the cubs will continue to thrive and are giving Shani the solitude she needs to care for her young. Shani and her cubs are monitored by a den camera and she has been observed protecting and caring for her babies.

“Because 90% of Africa’s lion population has disappeared in the last 75 years, Naples Zoo’s strategic response is two-fold,” said Jack Mulvena, Naples Zoo President and CEO.  “First, we cooperate in a scientific breeding program that has created a healthy, long-term population through significant births like these.  Second, we fund successful efforts in Africa that are helping to reverse this decline by reducing human-wildlife conflict.  We also host safaris annually that bring hundreds of thousands of dollars into places that protect lions.”

African lions are classified as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Overall lion numbers continue to decline due to illegal hunting, reductions in prey populations, and habitat loss.

The cubs, who have not been named yet, and their mother will not be on exhibit until mid-summer. However, visitors can see 3-month-old clouded leopard kittens on exhibit every day from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm and in the 2:30 pm daily Seated Safari Show.

To follow the Zoo’s progress in caring for the cubs, check for news on the Zoo’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Videos and photos available

About Naples Zoo Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization cooperating in conservation programs for endangered species locally and around the world. Admission includes a full day of interactive presentations, Meet-The-Keeper talks and a wild cruise through islands of monkeys, lemurs, and apes.  ($22.95 adults age 13+/ $14.95 children 3 to 12, under 3 free.) Zoo memberships and discount tickets are available online at Naples Zoo is open daily from 9:00 to 5:00 and is located in the heart of Naples at 1590 Goodlette-Frank Road across from the Coastland Center mall.  For more, click, follow them at or call (239) 262-5409.

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