A lion cub was born at the Detroit Zoo for the first time in 40 years, the Detroit Zoological Society announced Tuesday.
Binti, a female lion whose name means “daughter” in Swahili, was born Sept. 10 to the 4-year-old lioness Asha and rescued lion Simba, the society, based out of Royal Oak, revealed in a news release.
Asha and her sister, Amirah, arrived in May 2019 from the Buffalo Zoo through a species survival program, the zoo said. Simba, who once lived with the royal family of Qatar, arrived in 2013 after his owners relinquished him.
Asha underwent cesarean section after going into labor but not giving birth, the society reported. Three other cubs were stillborn.
Binti lived in an incubator with bottle feedings from 6 a.m. to midnight for the first several weeks after her birth, and the sounds and scents of adult lions were introduced, the society said.
Binti was then moved to a playpen, transitioned from milk to solid food, and is now being introduced to the other lions visually and through scent and sound, but not physically.
Asha’s surgery, which zoo officials said was lifesaving, meant the mother and daughter did not bond normally. However, the cub has bonded with her aunt, Amirah.
Binti has a lot of energy and is curious and playful, said Elizabeth Arbaugh, curator of mammals, in the release.
“She is learning to live with other lions, starting with her aunt, Amirah,” she said. “We expect that she will eventually live with her entire family as a member of the Detroit Zoo pride.”
The zoo boasts a lion habitat sponsored by the grocery chain Kroger with grassy terrain, elevated ledges, warming rocks, a pool, and an acrylic wall, along with the option to go inside on days with temperatures below 40 degrees.
Binti, therefore, might not always be visible to guests.
Guest capacity is limited, guests over 5 years old must wear masks, and reservations, available up to two weeks in advance, are required in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Addressing Binti’s dad’s story, the zoological society said in the release that it helped develop and advance the Big Cat Public Safety Act to curb private ownership, the society said in the release.
It was made famous by the Netflix series “Tiger King,” and was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this month.
A zoological society representative could not be reached Tuesday night for further comment.