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Posted at 2:01 PM ET, 09/17/2010

Zoo's lion cubs have their first physical

By Christopher Dean Hopkins

Thumbnail image for lioncub.jpg

(Photo: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo)

The National Zoo's newest zoo babies had their first physical examination Friday and zoo officials believe all four lion cubs are girls.

“They were great first-time patients and all four cubs appear to be healthy at this time,” said Dr. Katharine Hope, associate veterinarian at the Zoo. “Their eyes are starting to focus on things, their hearts and lungs sound clear, they are all strong and in good body condition and it looks like some of their lower teeth will start erupting soon.”

The cubs, born two-and-a-half-weeks ago, each weigh between seven to eight pounds.

But zoo officials caution that the cubs are still young, noting that the lion cubs younger than one-year-old in captivity in 2009 was about 30 percent, compared to a 67 percent mortality rate for cubs in the wild.

The cubs will have another exam next month when they'll get their vaccinations and when zoo officials will be able to confirm their sex. While they believe all four are girls, since they are so young, it's hard to be certain, officials said.

Zoo officials anticipate another lion birth in the next few weeks. Nababiep, the older sister of the cubs' mother Shera, also is expecting.

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  | September 17, 2010; 2:01 PM ET
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Awww. Look at that face! I can't wait for them to be released to the public so I can visit the zoo & check them out. It will be cooler, so hopefully they'll be very playful :)

Posted by: ms1234 | September 17, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

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