Lion cubs play peek-a-boo at the Zoo

03 August 2023

A roar of anticipation is sweeping through Werribee Open Range Zoo as three curious lion cubs reach another exciting life milestone.

A roar of anticipation is sweeping through Werribee Open Range Zoo as three curious lion cubs reach another exciting life milestone.

The eight-week-old-cubs have started exploring beyond their den, stepping into the expanses of the lion pride habitat for 30 minutes first thing this morning, before disappearing back into their den.

Werribee Open Range Zoo Director Dr Mark Pilgrim said it’s exciting to see the cubs embark on a new adventure while their supportive mother, Nilo, keeps a close watch.

“It’s wonderful to see the cubs growing in both stature and confidence,” Dr Pilgrim said. “They are incredibly inquisitive, climbing over logs, up and down mounds, and participating in all the playful behaviours that we hope to see from eight-week-old cubs.

“After some exploring and play, the cubs are at an age where they tire very quickly. Mum Nilo then guides them back into the comforts of their den to rest and feed.”

Dr Pilgrim said the cubs will have further opportunities and choice to explore as they continue to build their strength. Zoo visitors should be able to see the cubs out with the pride more frequently in the coming weeks and months ahead.

“There are currently small periods where the cubs are being gradually introduced to their habitat. This is all part of a specially designed plan that aims to replicate how lion cubs integrate with their environment and pride members in the wild.

Viewing opportunities for Zoo visitors are still extremely limited. We encourage Zoo members and visitors to continue to check Zoos Victoria’s website and social channels - and @zoosvictoria - for updates about when the cubs will be visible for extended periods of time in the weeks and months to come.

African lions are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, with their population declining to around only 39,000 in the wild in sub-Saharan Africa. The species is facing threats including human-wildlife conflict, poaching and habitat destruction.

The lion pride at Werribee Open Range Zoo is part of the Australasian zoo breeding and conservation program. Breeding and reproduction has significant long-term health and behavioural benefits for female lions, while raising cubs also provides opportunities for lifelong learning for the pride.

Werribee Open Range Zoo visitors have the opportunity to see father Sheru, adult lioness Asali and, on occasion, mother Nilo along the Zoo’s African River Trail.

The cubs will be named through a voting competition for Zoos Victoria members and donors commencing on World Lion Day [August 10].