Lioness, Dunia, is pregnant and due late September, a significant event since the last litter of lion cubs was born at the Zoo in 2007.
OKC Zoo participates in the AZA’s breeding program for African lions contributing to the sustainability of this vulnerable species.
The Oklahoma City Zoo is roaring with excitement this World Lion Day, an annual occurrence on August 10 that celebrates the majestic African lion, with the thrilling announcement that its African lioness, Dunia, is pregnant!
Dunia, 6, is pregnant and due to give birth to her first offspring late September 2022. The OKC Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan®(SSP) for African lions which made the recommendation for Dunia to breed with the OKC Zoo’s male lion, Hubert, 10. This will be the first offspring born to this breeding pair. SSP programs oversee the population management of select species within AZA member zoos and aquariums. This is an incredibly significant and successful breeding recommendation for Dunia and Hubert as it has been 15 years since the last litter of African lion cubs was born at the OKC Zoo.
“We are extremely excited for this upcoming birth, especially after nearly 15 years since our lion family has grown,” said Tyler Boyd, OKC Zoo’s curator of carnivores. “The opportunity to watch Dunia and the rest of the pride experience this addition is going to be incredibly special for our team members and guests. With African lions listed as a vulnerable species, each birth is vital to the continued success of this species.”
The OKC Zoo’s veterinary care team confirmed Dunia’s pregnancy through ultrasound monitoring and following an approximately 100-day gestation, she is expected to give birth in September. Carnivore caretakers say Dunia is healthy and her routine will remain the same throughout her pregnancy. The carnivore care team will continue to work with the Zoo’s veterinary team to monitor Dunia’s pregnancy through ongoing exams and ultrasounds. Dunia voluntarily participates in her own health care including medical behaviors such as ultrasounds through positive reinforcement training. Because of this successful training program, this process is a stress-free and comfortable experience for Dunia.
African lions are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature with wild populations decreasing due to illegal hunting, habitat loss, loss of food sources and conflict with humans. It is estimated that the total population of lions in Africa is less than 40,000 mature individuals. In 2021, the OKC Zoo provided money from its Round Up for Conservation Fund to help three conservation organizations based in Africa with their efforts to reduce human-predator conflict. Specifically, these organizations provide local farmers with livestock guard dogs and predator-deterrent enclosures in exchange for commitments from the farmers not to harm predators, including lions, on their land. This keeps both livestock and predators, including lions, cheetahs and African painted dogs safe. Through the Round Up for Conservation Fund, OKC Zoo’s guests are helping protect lions and hundreds of other species around the world.
Lions are found throughout most ecoregions of Africa – forest, savanna, shrubland, grassland and desert – and are the most social of all cats. They live in groups called prides that average about 15 members, but can range from 3 to 40. Females usually live with the same pride for life, but males often leave when they are a few years old.
The Zoo’s Lion Overlook habitat is home to its lion pride including Hubert, Dunia and her sister, Moto, 6. Dunia and Moto, arrived at the Zoo in 2018 from AZA accredited Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon as part of a breeding recommendation made by the SSP for African Lions. Lion Overlook is also home to the one of the Zoo’s packs of African painted dogs. The two species rotate time in the habitat so depending upon the day, guests may see African lions or African painted dogs. Guests will most often see Hubert, Dunia and Moto taking in the view from atop their habitat hilltop at Lion Overlook, a favorite location enjoyed by all three lions.
While visiting the OKC Zoo, guests are encouraged to attend a carnivore caretaker chat held at Lion Overlook. These free informal information chats occur at daily 10 a.m. and are a great way to learn more about the Zoo’s big cats and other predators from the experts themselves, the carnivore caretakers.
It’s baby news galore for the OKC Zoo with the recent birth of Sumatran tiger twins on July 2 and the anticipated births of an okapi calf and chimpanzee infant both due this fall. Follow the Zoo’s social platforms for updates on Dunia’s pregnancy and moms-to-be okapi, Kayin, and chimpanzee, Nia.
The Oklahoma City Zoo is in its summer hours and open daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the last entry no later than 2 p.m. through Wednesday, August 31. Connect to wildlife and tons of fun as you experience the all new BRICKLIVE Animal Paradise at the OKC Zoo. Sponsored by Devon, BRICKLIVE features 45+ life-sized animal statues made with almost two million toy bricks! BRICKLIVE Animal Paradise is open daily during regular Zoo hours. Purchase advance tickets for general Zoo admission and BRICKLIVE at www.okczoo.org/tickets. Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the OKC Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Regular admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. Stay connected with the Zoo on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linktree and TikTok, and by visiting our blog stories. To learn more about Zoo happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.