Zoo Knoxville is mourning the loss of an African lion cub just weeks after its birth was announced.
The 4-week-old cub – named Zuri, which means “beautiful” in Swahili – died after an accident last week. According to the zoo, the cub’s mother, Amara, was recovering from a medical procedure to treat acute renal insufficiency. Sharing the news of the jury’s death, the zoo wrote with a video, “The mother lion was sedated for the procedure, and “sadly, Amara inadvertently injured her cub.”
“Despite the immediate intervention of the veterinary team, the cubs succumbed,” the non-profit Tennessee Zoo said in a press release sent to HuffPost.
It is not clear what kind of fatal injury Zuri had suffered or why she was with her mother when the lion was coming out of an unconscious state. Zoo spokesmen could not provide further details about the injury.
Zoo Knoxville President and CEO Lisa New called the accident a “devastating and heart-wrenching loss.”
“Life can be delicate and fleeting, and while this is a reality of our profession, it does not free us from the pain of losing an animal. We are grateful for the sympathy and support of our community and allies,” New Press said in the release.
Zooey Knoxville said Amara is being closely monitored for signs of distress or grief while she continues to be treated for her ongoing kidney problems. She is currently “resting comfortably and has no noticeable signs of agitation.” If she remains stable, she will be reunited with her partner Upeppo, the zoo said.
According to a July 5 Facebook post by Zooey Knoxville announcing Zuri’s birth, Zuri was Amara’s third child with Upepo, after 6-month-old Maji and Anga, who took place on June 16. At the time, the zoo said the newborn was “healthy and thriving” but that “Amara experienced complications with delivery.”
The zoo said Amara showed signs of labor pain after the cub was born. Zookeepers performed an ultrasound on the lioness and found a dead cub trapped in her birth canal, and performed emergency surgery on her.
Although the surgery was successful, Amara’s recovery was slow, “and further tests revealed acute renal insufficiency,” for which she was being treated with medication.
“The cubs of Amara and Upepo are extremely important to the lion population in the care of zoos accredited by The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which work collaboratively as part of the African Lion Safe (Saving Animals from Extinction) program. to ensure the future of the species,” the zoo’s July 5 Facebook post reads.
Although Zoo Knoxville describes African lions as “endangered” on Facebook, the World Wildlife Fund lists them as “vulnerable”, with about 23,000 left in the wild. The site also notes that “three-quarters of their population is in decline.”
According to the WWF, the main threats to African lions are human-wildlife conflict and a decline in natural hunting, as well as habitat loss, climate change, and the wildlife trade.