KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — There is a new lion cub at Zoo Knoxville. On Tuesday, the zoo announced lions Upepo and Amara gave birth to their third cub.
The female cub was born on June 16 and is the sibling to 6-month-old cubs Magi and Anga. The cub is healthy and thriving while being nursed by its mother, Amara.
According to the zoo, Amara experienced complications with the birth and is being closely watched by her care team. After giving birth to the cub, Amara continued to show signs of labor. This led her care team to perform an ultrasound where a stillborn cub was found lodged in the birth canal.
Emergency surgery was performed to remove the cub by veterinarians from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine (UTCVM). While the surgery was successful, Amara was slow to rebound, and the zoo said further tests diagnosed acute renal insufficiency. This is a kidney failure of damage that happens within a few hours or days and it can cause a reduction in blood-flow to the kidneys.
The zoo said Amara is showing improvement and her care team is optimistic that they can continue to manage the condition through oral medications, fluid therapy and voluntary care.
This cub and her siblings are important to the population of lions in the care of zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, who work together as a part of the African Lion SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) program to ensure a future for the species.
The SAFE program works with organizations in Africa to reduce conflict between farmers and lions, increase monitoring of the number of lions, and address habitat loss. The goal of the program is to double the number of lions in the wild by 2050.