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Lion Pride Makes Public Debut At Zoo Miami

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – There was a coming out party of sorts for a lioness and her five cubs, including an adopted son, at Zoo Miami.

On March 6th, 2014, Kashifa, a 4 ½ year lioness, gave birth to her second litter of cubs, one female and three males.

Her first litter consisting of a female and two males was born on September 24, 2013. Sadly, those cubs developed a metabolic imbalance along with other health issues and the two males died as a result. The surviving female was eventually rejected by Kashifa and was sent to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore where she was successfully introduced to another litter and is doing well.

Kashifa’s sister, “Asha,” had given birth to a single cub on December 15th of 2013. That cub also faced a variety of health issues but fought through them and was introduced to the public with his mother on March 13th to great fanfare. Two weeks later Asha suddenly died from complications during a veterinary procedure. Asha’s death left the male cub named “Kwasi” all alone.

“It was such a sad thing for us because it came after such a tremendous high. We had lost two cubs from Kashifa’s first litter and had to send another out to another zoo so it could be raised. We now were on this roller coaster of emotions on a low of loosing the cubs and then reintroducing more to exhibit, then a horrible low of this orphaned cub that would sit there and cry for his mother and that’s when the decision was made we were going to try to introduce him to Kashifa,” said Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill.

Kwasi was then carefully introduced to Kashifa and her litter in hopes that she would “adopt” him and raise him as her own. It worked.

For the past 3 months, Kashifa has been in isolation with her new cubs to insure that she was able to bond with and properly care for them. During this time, she proved to be an excellent mother and the cubs thrived.

On Thursday the melded family made their public debut.

“This is a big dea, a huge deal been coming since zoo opened and this has never happened,” said Zoo member Shelley Michel. “We’re so happy for Kkwasi, we were so worried about him and he is just doing fabulous. Look how big he got.”

This is the first lion pride on exhibit at Zoo Miami.

Beverly Armstrong/zoo MIAMI member 1:01-1:11
“Its so exciting to see they are healthy and doing great,” said Zoo member Beverly Armstrong. “It’s so wonderful.”

Miami Zoo says if everything goes well the cubs will be on exhibit this weekend. However, they will not be out every day and their schedule will change depending on how they handle this new change in their schedule.

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