Singapore Zoo celebrates first

Photo: AFP/Twitter

Singapore Zoo celebrates first lion cub born through artificial insemination

Singapore Zoo released the first video of its lion cub Simba who was born in October 2020 after being conceived by artificial insemination.

Singapore Zoo celebrates first

Photo: AFP/Twitter

It was a bittersweet moment when Singapore Zoo announced the arrival of its first lion cub born through artificial insemination. Unfortunately, it was also reported that baby Simba will never get to meet his father Mufasa, because the geriatric lion was not revived after the insemination procedure.

Singapore Zoo releases video of its first artificially inseminated lion cub

According to the BBC, Simba is the late Mufasa’s only son, as the older cat’s aggression meant he never successfully mated. Instead, the zoo decided to try to continue his bloodline through the rarely-used process.

According to a spokesman from the Zoo, his semen was collected by what the zoo described as “electro-ejaculation” for artificial insemination. After the procedure, Mufasa – who, at 20, had outlived his wild siblings by six to 10 years – had to be euthanised.

A Thriving Lion Cub

“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.”

Simba is now three months old and is apparently thriving. His name – like his father’s, is a nod to Disney classic The Lion King – was actually born last October, but the zoo waited until now to announce the news.

A world first

It is said that it is rare for lions to be conceived through artificial insemination, with the procedure first carried out successfully in 2018 — resulting in two cubs in South Africa.

At the time, The University of Pretoria said that a lioness at the Ukutula Conservation Center and Biobank in South Africa’s North West province gave birth to two cubs conceived via non-surgical artificial insemination, using fresh semen from an adult male lion at the same facility. The UP said the birth resulted from a research study by a team of scientists from the university on the reproductive physiology of the female African lion and the development of artificial insemination (AI) protocols for this species, which could be used as a baseline for other endangered large wild felids.