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Posted at 10:36 AM ET, 05/21/2010

Zoo's lion cub dies

By Washington Post editors

UPDATED:

The National Zoo has announced its newborn lion cub died Thursday night.

Keepers had been watching the cub via camera since his birth Tuesday morning.

When they noticed the cub was not responding to its mother, they moved the mother outdoors, examined the cub and found it to be deceased.

A necropsy revealed a straw “awn” -- the pointed tip on a blade of straw -- in the cub’s lungs. That caused the animal to develop pneumonia, the cause of death.

The use of straw as bedding for lions and other animals is common throughout zoos, the zoo said. “Losing this lion cub is devastating for all of us at the National Zoo,” Dennis Kelly, director of the zoo, said in a written announcement.

“I believe this was a one-in-a-million fluke,” he said. “Unfortunately, this is the downside to the ‘cycle of life.’ But, the animal care team and zoo staff are consummate professionals, and I know they’ve learned a tremendous amount from creating the pride, breeding the lions and getting (the cub’s mother) Nababiep through her first birth. We mourn this loss yet keep our focus on the best care for the lion pride.”


-- Michael E. Ruane

By Washington Post editors  | May 21, 2010; 10:36 AM ET
Categories:  DC, Maryland, Virginia  | Tags:  Lion, National Zoo, lion cub  
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Comments

RIP, little lion.

Posted by: WickedRose | May 21, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Another one in the long, sad saga of the animals the National Zoo has killed through neglect and incompetence. And they always have a lame excuse every time they kill one.

Posted by: checkered1 | May 21, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I'm running the risk of sounding ultra hippie but why do we feel the need to cage these animals to look at them? I'm all for the study of our planet and flora and fauna, but really, let's just let them live in the wild.

Posted by: Bigfoot_has_a_posse | May 21, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I was watching the zoo's lioncub cam yesterday afternoon and saw it walking in a wobbly way. (That is undoubtedly because it was just two days old.) Later, though, I saw it not moving. Mama lion was very attentive. Aspirated straw leading to pneumomia the tentative cause of death? What do lion cubs sleep on in the wild? I await the zoo's report on this and hope it's not a whitewash.

Posted by: pirate1 | May 21, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

This is some depressing arse news :*(

Posted by: sigmagrrl | May 21, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Hey, wasn't Zoofari going on last night?

Posted by: sigmagrrl | May 21, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Poor thing. That's a shame.

Posted by: jckdoors | May 21, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

“I believe this was a one-in-a-million fluke,”

Incorrect this has happened before to cubs and other species and is well documented in zoological journals:

http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118691367/abstract

"Growth and development of Polar bear Ursus maritimus cubs at ...
by CB DE KENNY - 2005 - Cited by 2 - Related articles
DENVER ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS: POLAR BEAR GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT ... Polar bear Ursus maritimus cubs. In the wild 88 fast ..... of death was undetermined. The remaining cub (8) died at 8weeks old from pneumonia after it inhaled a grass awn from the straw bedding. The awn migrated down the respiratory tract and ..."

Its a disgrace and didnt need to happen....
RIP lioncub

Posted by: david_14 | May 21, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

The time has come to shut down zoos. Zoos and seaquariums are terrible.

Posted by: FiatBooks | May 21, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Set all these animals free. The idea of a zoo is freaky in today's world. Another thing, stop polluting habitats and killing these animals (see, the US Gulf states).

Posted by: johng1 | May 21, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I love being able to see animals, but I always feel so badly for the animals at the zoo. Except for a few rare situations like with the Pandas and the new Elephant trail they are creating, the habitats do not reflect a proper environment for these animals.

I realize the educational value of having non-native animals in one location for people to experience, but it just really doesn't seem fair.

Except for those animals that are at risk for extinction in the wild, lets either give them an appropriate habitat or set them free.

Posted by: AutumnBanter | May 21, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I love being able to see animals, but I always feel so badly for the animals at the zoo. Except for a few rare situations like with the Pandas and the new Elephant trail they are creating, the habitats do not reflect a proper environment for these animals.

I realize the educational value of having non-native animals in one location for people to experience, but it just really doesn't seem fair.

Except for those animals that are at risk for extinction in the wild, lets either give them an appropriate habitat or set them free.

Posted by: AutumnBanter | May 21, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Ignorant people only see what they want to see. The Smithsonian National Zoo has had phenomenal success over the years with breeding endangered species. Recently they've welcomed kiwi birds, burrowing owls, scimitar horned oryxes, clouded leopards, andean bears, white-naped cranes. If it wasn't for the research, conservation and educational efforts of zoos like this our planet would be in worse shape than it is now.

Posted by: PGirl | May 21, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

PGirl

"http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118691367/abstract"


If the staff at the national zoo were not so ignorant of the scientific literature then this poor lion would be still with its mom. There is no shortage of evidence to demonstrate this.

"Between 1999 and 2005, mismanagement led to the accidental or neglectful deaths of around two dozen animals in the National Zoo's care, threatening the Zoo's accreditation and causing the resignation of its director, Lucy Spelman, at the end of 2004 ...."


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smithsonian_National_Zoological_Park

Its a disgrace !!

Posted by: david_14 | May 21, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

So sad. I was looking forward to seeing this in the near future

They should have made extra procautions for this cub not to be inhaling anything!

Posted by: Bious | May 21, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Zoos play an important role in education and fostering interest and understanding so that people will work to preserve our natural world.

The National Zoo has been sloppy and irresponsible time and time again. They are an embarrassment to our country, and harmful to so many animals who deserve far more respect.

This is incredibly sad news.

Posted by: Nyani | May 25, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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