Denver, meet the city’s new lion king or queen

From the day the cub arrived at the Denver Zoo / And blinking, step into the sun / There’s more to see than can ever be seen / More to do than can ever be done.

African lion cub 1
staff photos

Without the predators and prey of a natural habitat, this isn’t exactly the Circle of Life. But let’s not let that stop us from raising a toast to the new African lion cub born last Thursday at the Denver Zoo.

Zoo officials have not yet confirmed the sex of the cub (they’re letting it bond with its mother undisturbed), and the 6-day-old doesn’t yet have a name, but it’s got a pretty great tiny face.

The cub belongs to mom Neliah, a 7-year-old African lioness, and her mate Tobias, a 3-year-old.

Right now Neliah and her cub are spending most of their time in their “den box,” an area the zoo created to mimic a space she might seek for birthing and nursing in the wild. According to a press release from the zoo, the area makes her feel secure. The new family will hang out there for the next six to eight weeks.

The mother and cub are both “healthy, active and alert,” according to the zoo.

A spokesman for the zoo said the birth is a big deal for the African lion species, which has lost half of its population in the last 25 years. In fact, Tobias was brought to Denver Zoo last year to mate with Neliah or her daughter, Kamara.

Expect to see the cub live later this summer. Before that, zoo visitors will be able to watch the mother and cub interact on TV screens at the zoo.

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