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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Two of the first lion cubs ever born at Zoo Miami will be heading to a new home thanks to an “animal dating service.”

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One-year-old K’wasi and his 9-month-old adopted brother, Saba, have been selected as good genetic matches to breed with existing females at Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee.

One-year-old K’wasi has been selected as good genetic matches to breed with existing females at Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee.(Source: Zoo Miami)

One-year-old K’wasi has been selected as good genetic matches to breed with existing females at Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee.(Source: Zoo Miami)

The connection was made though the Species Survival Plan (SSP) managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Similar to an online dating program, SSP recommends breeding between animals whose genetic make-up makes them best suited to produce the non-related offspring needed to sustain a healthy captive population.

There are presently 247 lions being managed in AZA institutions. The goal is to bring that number up to 350 individuals, which fosters a high institutional demand for genetically matched animals to be paired up in hopes of successful breeding.

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The present recommendations are for 61 females to be bred in 41 different institutions.  To create the necessary pairings, 13 transfers, including today’s, have been recommended.

K’wasi was born on December 15th of last year and was the first lion born at Zoo Miami.  He was the only cub in the litter and faced many challenges. His mother, Asha, was unable to produce enough milk to nourish him. After overcoming the feeding issue with the help of the Zoo Miami staff, K’wasi and Asha were introduced to the public – but Asha died days later.

9-month-old adopted brother, Saba, has been selected as good genetic matches to breed with existing females at Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee.(Source: Zoo Miami)

Nine-month-old adopted brother, Saba, has been selected as good genetic matches to breed with existing females at Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee.(Source: Zoo Miami)

However, Asha’s sister Kashifa had a litter of four healthy cubs three months after K’wasi was born.  That litter included, Saba, the other male that will be part of this transfer.  The zoo staff was able to integrate K’wasi into that litter and he was successfully adopted by Kashifa and her cubs.

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