Asheboro, NC - The North Carolina Zoo is roaring with excitement, as a lion has given birth at the zoo for the first time since October 2006.

On July 30, the North Carolina Zoo’s female lion Mekita and male lion Reilly welcomed four cubs. The breeding was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Lion Species Survival Plan.

Mekita and her cubs are doing well, but they will not be on exhibit until the fall. The gender of the four cubs is currenly unknown. The cubs will be at the North Carolina Zoo for the next year.

“Male cubs don’t stay with their father,” explains Jennifer Ireland, an Animal Management Supervisor looking after lions at the North Carolina Zoo. “In the wild, male cubs leave the pride they are born into. In addition, many AZA zoos are looking for lions, so our new cubs will eventually go to a new home.”

The cubs and their mother Mekita are secluded inside a den at the zoo’s lion exhibit. A video of Mekita and her cubs is available at the following link:

On World Lion Day, Saturday, August 9, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the North Carolina Zoo’s lion exhibit, zoo staff will celebrate lions. During the event there will be games and crafts for kids. Zoo keepers will be on hand to educate visitors about lions and talk about the zoo’s newborn cubs.

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, John E. Skvarla, III, Secretary; Pat McCrory, Governor.