Singapore Zoo welcomes newborn lion cub ‘Simba’, first born in Singapore via assisted reproduction

Such is the circle of life.

Ruth Chan

Enjoys solitude. Finds comfort in watching the sunset and drinking milo.

Published: 26 January 2021, 6:07 PM

Say hello to Simba, the first lion cub to be born by assisted reproduction in Singapore. 

The Singapore Zoo welcomed the male cub on Oct 23 last year, said the Wildlife Reserves Singapore on Tuesday (Jan 26).  

Simba was conceived after zookeepers and veterinarians collected semen from his father, Mufasa, a geriatric lion, using the process of electro-ejaculation. Mufasa was not revived following the procedure, as “his deteriorating health was a key factor”. 

The semen was then used to artificially inseminate Simba’s mother Kayla. WRS said Kayla was an ideal candidate because she was a proven breeder.

The Lion City’s First Cub by Assisted Reproduction

Thanks to advancements in assisted reproduction technology and the perseverance of vets and keepers at Singapore Zoo’s Wildlife Health and Research Centre, we’re proud to share the first-ever African lion cub conceived by assisted reproduction in the Lion City. In celebration of his heritage, the little one was named Simba, which means ‘lion’ in Swahili. Watch to find out Simba's story. *Some footages were filmed prior to the implementation of safe management measures and wearing of masks became mandatory.

Posted by Wildlife Reserves Singapore on Tuesday, January 19, 2021

An average African lion has a lifespan of 10 to 14 years in the wild. Mufasa lived till he was 20, but did not father any children in his lifetime due to his aggressive behaviours which resulted in unsuccessful pairing with lionesses.

However, WRS said that his genes would be of “high value in contributing to the genetic diversity and sustainability of African lion populations in zoological institutions”. 


As Simba’s features continue to develop, he is said to share the same beautiful eyes as Mufasa’s. PHOTO CREDIT: WILD RESERVES SINGAPORE


In the first month of Simba’s life, he developed well under Kayla’s watchful eye, but as time passed, keepers found him to be lethargic and having a challenging time suckling.

This may be due to Kayla suffering from inflammation of her mammary glands.

As such, the animal care team decided to supplement Simba’s nutrition, which allows Kayla to care for her young, but would sometimes intervene to bottle feed him.

Kughan Krishnan, the head keeper for carnivores, said: “It was a delicate decision because animals can reject their young following temporary separation.

“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.” 

She is protective of her cub, plays with him and also shares her feed.

Now, Simba is described as healthy and inquisitive. Keepers have started to incorporate small amounts of raw meat in his diet and he can be seen tailing his mother wherever she goes.


Lion cubs usually start transitioning to meat between two to three months old. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE


Currently, Kayla and Simba are housed in an off-exhibit area to allow them to further strengthen their bond privately. 

In due time, he will be introduced to the rest of his family, including his half-sister Shani and his aunt Kiara, said WRS.

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