The Wildlife Reserves zoological institute has announced the birth of a new lion cub—the first to be born from artificial insemination in Singapore. Baby Simba (named for the Swahili word for "Lion" which is coincidentally also what the Lion King character was named for) was born on October 23, 2020, and he remains healthy, despite some initial concerns. Vice explains:
In his first month, Simba "developed well" under the care of his mother, Kayla. But keepers later discovered that he was lethargic and had trouble suckling. The animal care team decided to supplement Simba's nutrition with bottle feeding as Kayla was believed to be suffering from inflamed mammary glands.
"It was a delicate decision because animals can reject their young following temporary separation," Kughan Krishnan, head keeper of carnivores at the WRS said. "Thankfully, Kayla was accepting of the intervention which reflects the trust relationship built up over time between the lioness and her animal care team, that helped to achieve the positive outcome."
Unfortunately, Baby Simba's father did not make it. From the BBC:
According to a spokesman, his semen was collected by what the zoo described as "electro-ejaculation" for artificial insemination.
After that, frail Mufasa — who, at 20, had outlived his wild siblings by six to 10 years — had to be euthanised.
The animal was not only old, but also suffering from atrophy. The primary procedure was therefore "to euthanise Mufasa on humane grounds", the zoo told the BBC.
"Semen collection while Mufasa was under anaesthesia was a secondary procedure, albeit an important one, to ensure his bloodline continues after his passing."
That's a pretty dank Lion King reboot if you ask me.
Meet Simba, Singapore's First Lion Born Through Artificial Insemination [Frankie Lantican / Vice]
Image: Sumeet Moghe / Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 4.0)