Mogo Wildlife Park is in mourning after the devastating loss of a ‘spectacular’ lioness who died after giving birth to four cubs.
Tragically, two cubs did not survive the difficult labour at the popular NSW south coast tourist attraction this week.
Just last month, beautiful lioness Zuri had undergone an ultrasound while fully awake, with staff thrilled to able to see the little cubs inside.
But everything went horribly wrong during Zuri’s labour halfway through.
Zuri the lioness suckling her two surviving cubs after the difficult labour. Sadly the struggling mother died three days later of her internal injuries
Everything had looked wonderful in November when pregnant Zuri had an ultrasound showing thrilled staff she had four healthy cubs inside
Two cubs had already been born healthy when a third one appeared, already dead.
The fourth cub also died inside and wouldn’t come out, tearing up Zuri’s insides during the labour.
Vets tried to save the mother with an emergency immobilisation and Caesarian section, the wildlife park said on Facebook.
‘The cub had already passed and due to its size and positioning had caused severe internal rupturing to Zuri,’ the park said in its post.
After a ‘mammoth surgery’, Zuri was returned to her den to recover.
‘She was so strong and showed real signs she would recover,’ the wildlife park wrote.
‘But after three long days of round the clock care, pain relief, antibiotics and prayer, unfortunately the damage had been just too much for her body and she passed.’
The park said the wounded lioness had shown ‘amazing’ mothering instincts to care for her first two cubs despite her severe internal injuries.
‘Zuri was such a spectacular lioness and is missed so deeply,’ the park wrote.
The popular park’s Facebook post was immediately swamped by more than 530 messages of love and sympathy from its many fans saddened by the tragedy.
‘So grateful to you all at Mogo for your incredible love and devotion to Wildlife our thoughts are with you as you grieve and take care of the precious cubs,’ wrote one woman.
‘We send you all our condolences. We were lucky enough to have visited your zoo a month ago and saw Zuri relaxing in the shade. We have some great photos of her,’ wrote another.
Lionesses Chitwa and Zuri in happier days at Mogo. Chitwa gave birth to her first cub, Phoenix, in January during the horrific NSW bushfire crisis. Zuri died after giving birth to a litter of four
Chitwa and Zuri playing together at Mogo Wildlife Park. Hundreds of devastated fans have poured messages of grief and sympathy onto the park’s Facebook page
‘Tragic news, so hard for all your staff May the two remaining cubs inherit Zuri’s courage, strength and grow into beautiful loved lions Thinking of you all,’ wrote a third.
It has been a difficult year for the beloved wildlife park which had to close twice due to fires.
Mogo Wildlife Park director Chad Staples with lion cub Phoenix, born in January after the NSW bushfire crisis. Brave staff saved more than 200 animals by defending them from the flames
In January, Mogo faced down ‘apocalyptic’ bush fires during which park director Chad Staples and his 15 staff battled for hours to defend the zoo by dousing the grounds with hundreds of thousands of litres of water as the inferno approached.
The blaze surrounded the zoo on New Year’s Eve, putting more than 200 animals in danger, but thanks to the staff’s desperate efforts of the staff, all the animals escaped unscathed.
White lioness Chitwa gave birth to her first cub, Phoenix, soon after the fires in January.
The privately-owned zoo at Mogo near Bateman’s Bay on the NSW South Coast says it has Australia’s largest collection of exotic animals.
The park hosts gorillas, rhinoceros, silvery gibbons, Bolivian squirrel monkeys, giraffe, zebra, meerkats, cheetah, cotton-top tamarins, snow leopards, Sumatran tigers, Nepalese red pandas, ring-tailed lemurs, oriental small-clawed otters, siamangs and white lions, according to tourism website visitnsw.com