The smallest of three African lion cubs born at the Oregon Zoo last month is back with her family following an extended visit to the vet.
Oregon Zoo staff stepped in for an "intensive-care intervention" and placed the cub in the zoo veterinary medical center for nine days because she was having trouble keeping her body temperature at a normal level.
She returned to her family's private den Tuesday, but zoo vet Tim Storm said the little one isn't out of the woods yet.
"Medically speaking, the outlook is much better than it was a week ago," Storm said. "Her blood-glucose levels are normal and she's able to maintain a good body temperature. She's vigorous and responsive. She's still underweight, but she's up to about 4.2 pounds now, which is a significant improvement."
There's still concerns about the cub's fluctuating white blood cell count, because that indicates an inflammatory response to an undetected health problem.
Initially, they were also unsure how the cub's mom, Neka, would react when the cub returned to her den Tuesday, but the first-time mom accepted her cub right away.
Unfortunately, the smallest cub still isn't nursing as much as she should be, according to Jennifer Davis, who oversees the zoo's Africa and primate areas.
"Overnight, she only had two bouts of nursing, and they lasted about a minute each. Today, there was a longer session - about seven minutes - which is encouraging, but still not enough," Davis said. "She doesn't seem to track things as well as the others, and she isn't as insistent about nursing, whether it be from a bottle or nipple."
The other two cubs remain in good health, but there's no word yet on when they'll be on display for the public.
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