By Dillon Thomas

DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver Zoo has a new arrival! An African lion cub was born on Thursday, July 25 to mom Neliah, 7, and dad Tobias, 3. CBS4 learned Wednesday afternoon that the cub is a boy!

(credit: Denver Zoo)

Wednesday, zoo staff learned the week-old lion cub was a boy. The Denver Zoo broke the news to CBS4’s Dillon Thomas, saying the unnamed cub was already up and exploring.

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“He’s walking around and got his eyes open. They grow up pretty quickly,” said Hollie Colahan, Vice President for Animal Care at the zoo. “Who doesn’t love a baby lion?”

(credit: Denver Zoo)

Zoo officials said Neliah and her cub are spending most of their time in their den box, which mimics the kind of space she would look for in the wild to deliver and nurse. The yet-unnamed cub will make his debut later this summer after bonding with mom and rest of the pride behind the scenes in Benson Predator Ridge.

The zoo shared video of the cub exploring the den box, rolling around and nursing.

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Colahan said the cub will likely take several months to grow to the size of many other lions. She said the iconic mane humans associate with male lions will take longer to form.

The African lion population has been cut in half since Disney’s “The Lion King” was released 25 years ago. Colahan hoped the birth of the baby boy cub would encourage more humans to grow their interest in the preservation and growth of the lion population.

“These lions really help us tell the important story of what is happening to lions in the wild,” Colahan said. “When people start to care, then they want to learn more and do more.”

Colahan said the zoo would likely take some time to consider different names for the cub, before potentially taking the naming to a public vote.

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Guests will be able to catch a glimpse of Neliah and her cub on the TV screens in Pahali Ya Simba in Benson Predator Ridge before his public debut.

Dillon Thomas