No, you didn’t misread the headline! The baby boom at the Idaho Falls Zoo continues! Kimani, the zoo’s African lioness, gave birth to two female cubs on July 11. That is only five months after becoming a first-time mom to male cub, Hondo back in February!
(April 26, 2017 birth announcement of Hondo.)
Although the cubs are currently with their mother away from public view, the zoo will be posting photos, videos, and periodic updates on the Idaho Falls Zoo’s Facebook page and on Instagram. The cubs will be reunited with their father and older brother when they reach certain developmental goals.
The back-to-back pregnancies were the result of a unique set of circumstances. At the advanced age of 14 and no successful pregnancies, the hopes of Kimani ever having cubs grew ever more doubtful. As a result, the zoo community was thrilled when she gave birth to Hondo earlier this year.
When Hondo was separated from his mother for life-saving medical treatment, Kimani was able to get pregnant again. “These two new cubs are good news!” stated Idaho Falls Zoo Animal Keeper Dallas LaDucer, “Their mother Kimani has a unique set of genetics and it is important that they are passed on to future generations.”
(May 19, 2017 Reintroduction of Hondo to parents.)
Typically, zoos would only expect cubs every few years, but back-to-back births can be more common in the wild. If a lioness loses her cubs, she almost immediately comes back into heat. “With two pregnancies in the same season and the older cub having spent the first few months of his life being raised by Justice the dog, it has been a remarkable year for our Lion Pride” stated David Pennock, IF Zoo Executive Director.
The zoo is in the middle of a banner year for both animal babies and zoo attendance. “In all the years I have been at the zoo, I have never seen anything like it!” exclaimed zoo Operations Manager Linda Beard. “With everything that has happened with our lions, hand raising one of only 16 Grey Gibbons in the country, a Sloth Bear cub, a camel calf, the first Red-crowned Crane chick in the zoo’s history and all the other babies, it has been a wild and wonderful year at the zoo!”
Media Note: For more information or to schedule an interview with zoo staff, contact Public Information Officer, Kerry Hammon.