One of three new lion cubs at Oregon Zoo is sick

One of three new lion cubs at Oregon Zoo is sick
A 12-day-old African lion cub in its den box at the Oregon Zoo. (Oregon Zoo / photo by Michael Durham)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Being really cute doesn’t guarantee good health, unfortunately.

One of the new lion cubs at the Oregon Zoo is staying in the veterinary hospital after staff members noticed it was acting strangely.

“What we learned is she’s unable to hold her body temperature, she’s been dehydrated, she wasn’t gaining weight like the others,” said Chris Pfefferkorn, the deputy director of living collections at the zoo. “And she had an elevated white blood cell count which told us there could have been an infection or something going on with her.”

The staff isn’t quite sure what the problem is. The cub’s mother, Neka, had three babies on Sept. 7. The other two are doing fine, as is Neko.

"So far she’s really being a great mom,” Pfefferkorn  said. “She’s nursing the other two, they’re playing with her. We’re seeing them be really rambunctious and mobile.

“We actually started separating Neka, for about a half hour, 45 minutes at a time and put her in with the adults so she can get some mom time alone.”

There’s no diagnosis or prognosis. The cub is on an incubator.

“She’s being kept warm, she’s being fed, she’s taking her food well,” Pfefferkorn  said. “But everything with her is day to day right now.”