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Lion Cub At Lincoln Park Zoo Named Pilipili After Swahili Word For ‘Pepper’

Pilipili was born March 15 to first-time mother and 3-year-old lioness Zari, who's shown excellent maternal instincts, zookeepers said.

Pilipili was born March 15 at the Lincoln Park Zoo.
Provided/Lincoln Park Zoo
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LINCOLN PARK — Lincoln Park Zoo’s newest lion now has a name.

The zoo named the healthy cub Pilipili after the Swahili word for “pepper.” He was born March 15 to 3-year-old lioness Zari and her 4-year-old mate, Jabari.

“As the cub grows, he has become more curious and active and has been surpassing critical milestones such as leaving the den box and eating solid foods, said Mike Murray, the zoo’s curator of mammals. “Zari, a first-time mom, has provided incredible maternal care to the cub from nursing to grooming.”

Credit: Provided/Jill Dignan/Lincoln Park Zoo
Pilipili cuddles with his mother, Zari.

Pilipili remains in good health and weighs 16 pounds, compared to the 2 pounds he weighted at birth, according to the zoo. The cub will remain behind the scenes for now until he’s more grown and introduced to the rest of the pride.

African lions like Pilipili can weigh up to 500 pounds.

Males are typically larger than females and are distinguished by their mane, which surrounds their head and extends to their chest, the zoo said.

Pilipili’s specis can be found in parts of sub-Saharan Africa in forests, shrublands and grasslands.

Lion populations have declined over the past century, and fewer than 20,000 lions remain, according to the zoo, which is part of the KopeLion Project that strives to foster human-lion coexistence in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

“We’re looking forward to Pilipili exploring the outdoor habitat at Pepper Family Wildlife Center in the coming weeks and to share this incredible cub with Chicago,” Murray said. “Pilipili reminds us of the importance of conserving these majestic carnivores in Tanzania, a commitment Lincoln Park Zoo is dedicated to.”

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