Just earlier today, Lincoln Park Zoo shared images of how pregnant female lion Zari strides into the new year, literally!
Zari is expected to give birth to her second baby this month. Pilipili, her first male cub with mate Jabari, was born March 15 of this year. The birth of Pilipili and Zari’s current pregnancy are part of the African Lion Species Survival Plan®, a collaborative population management effort across accredited zoos within the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
Animal care staff suspected a possible lion pregnancy based on observed breeding behavior combined with behavioral data using ZooMonitor, a Lincoln Park Zoo-created animal behavior monitoring app. The pregnancy was then confirmed via hormone analysis using the non-invasive collection of fecal samples. Lastly, during a positive-reinforcement training session, Zari voluntarily participated in ultrasound sessions which supported a pregnancy diagnosis.
As the #LionWatch continues across the zoo’s social media channels, Zari participates voluntarily in her own healthcare through weekly ultrasounds with animal care and veterinary teams. Behind the scenes at the newly renovated Pepper Family Wildlife Center, Zari hops up on a custom-built protected platform. This space lets veterinarians touch the ultrasound probe to Zari directly through a small, mesh port in the barrier. Veterinarians can then collect images as Zari receives some of her favorite foods.
Although the number of cub(s) in the litter has not yet been determined via ultrasound, the animal care and veterinary teams continue to provide expert care to Zari throughout her second pregnancy at Lincoln Park Zoo. The lion watch continues as we eagerly wait to see the city of Chicago’s newest wildlife addition(s).