Washington zoo cubs likely females

Sept. 20, 2010 at 6:04 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Four lion cubs born at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington appear to be female, zookeepers said.

The four as-yet-unnamed cubs born Aug. 31, the first litter for 5-year-old lioness Shera, got their first checkup last week, and all appeared healthy, Livescience.com reported Sunday.

Further examinations will be needed to confirm the sex of the cubs, zoo workers said.

"During their first checkup the cubs were weighed (about 7-8 pounds)," lion keeper Rebecca Stites said. "Our vet staff did an overall physical, inserted a microchip, and we shaved a small area on each so that we can identify them as individuals. All of the cubs had full bellies and appear to be in good health so far."

The young lions would remain at the zoo for about two years until they are sexually mature and ready to be sent to other zoos for breeding, zoo officials said.

"To keep them would put us in danger of inbreeding and we definitely don't want that," Craig Saffoe, the zoo's curator of great cats, said.

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