An adorable lion cub will soon be joining the attractions at Singapore Zoo.
Simba, who is now three months old, was conceived via IVF after semen was extracted from an adult lion using a machine called a device to carry out electroejaculation.
Mufasa, the donor lion, did not survive the procedure.
A statement from the zoo said that Mufasa was elderly and had been suffering poor health. While he had reached the age of 20, which is quite old for a lion, he had never fathered any cubs due to his “aggressive behaviour".
The zoo decided to extract some of Mufasa’s sperm, because, they say, “his genes would be of high value in contributing to the genetic diversity and sustainability of African lion populations in zoological institutions".
For the procedure, the animal is sedated, and then an electrojaculator is inserted into the animal’s anus – stimulating the prostate gland and causing ejaculation.
The technique is quite commonly-used in livestock breeding.
Zookeepers say that Simba, who was born at the zoo on October 23, is “healthy and inquisitive” and has the same beautiful eyes as the late Mufasa.
They chose to delay announcing the cub’s birth until he had reached the three-month mark.
The little cub had a slightly troubled first couple of months because his mother had some trouble feeding him, and his feeds had to be supplemented with a bottle.
Kughan Krishnan, the head of carnivores at the Singapore Zoo, said that while some animal parents can fail to bond with a cub under these circumstances, mercifully Simba’s mum accepts the bottle feeds.
“Thankfully, Kayla was accepting of the intervention which reflects the trust relationship built up over time between the lioness and her animal care team," he said, "that helped to achieve the positive outcome".
Samba will soon be moving onto solid food, and zoo staff say they plan to introduce him to the rest of his family, including his aunt and half-sister over the coming few months.
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