3 cubs born to Oregon Zoo lioness

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Neka, a 6-year-old African lion at the Oregon Zoo, prior to giving birth to three healthy lion cubs Sept. 7, 2013, at the Oregon Zoo. (Brock Parker/Oregon Zoo)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — An African lioness housed at the Oregon Zoo in Portland gave birth to three cubs Saturday night, according to an Oregon Zoo release.

The first-time mom, 6-year-old Neka, and her new babies are doing well so far, according to the release. The zoo describes the cubs as “healthy.”

The cubs were born between about 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Saturday. The cubs are with their mother in a maternity den behind the scenes at the zoo.

“For a first-time mom, we couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Laura Weiner, senior keeper for the zoo’s Africa area, in a prepared statement. “She cleaned her cubs off right away when they came out, and she’s been allowing them to nurse. The cubs all appear to be healthy. They’re moving around well, and they have a lot of energy.”

The litter is believed to be the first offspring for Neka and Zawadi Mungu, a 5-year-old male lion at the zoo. Lion cubs are born after a gestation period of 105 to 115 days.

Cubs typically weigh about 3 pounds at birth. After about six to eight weeks, if the cubs are healthy and continue to thrive, animal-care staff will determine whether they are ready for a public debut, the zoo reported.

The zoo’s three adult lions — Zawadi, Neka and Kya — came to the Oregon Zoo in 2009 based on a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for African lions, according to the Oregon Zoo. Zawadi, the male, came from the San Diego Wild Animal Park, and the females, Neka and Kya, came from the Virginia Zoo and Wisconsin’s Racine Zoo.

“Fifteen years ago, lions were abundant in much of East Africa,” said curator Jennifer Davis, who oversees the zoo’s Africa and primate areas, in her prepared statement. “But now they are disappearing at alarming rates. Every time a person visits the zoo, part of the admission goes toward helping protect lions and other African predators.”

Den-cam video:

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