Havana Zoo forced to use ‘birth control’ on frisky lions


Breeding and protecting endangered species is an important part of what many zoos do around the world, and Cuba’s wildlife park is no exception.

The zoo now has more lion cubs than it can handle. Is the breeding plan for the lions working too well?

CGTN’s Michael Voss takes a look inside the Havana Zoo.

The Havana Zoo has more than a thousand animals. Its African Savannah Safari Park is one of the largest in the Americas, boosted by donations from both Tanzania and Namibia. In addition to the public attractions, there’s also an active breeding program.

The zebras have bred so fast that the zoo now claims to have the largest collection outside of Africa. The hippos also like the environment, and have produced several calves.

Some animals, like the white rhinos, are proving difficult to breed in captivity. So far the rhinos have had no success in Havana. The lions, however, are having too many babies.

Since the lion enclosure was first opened 30 years ago, there have been more than 300 births. The zoo has had to provide family planning for the lions.

“We had to control lion reproduction because this species adapted very well to our climate. These are animals which are expensive to look after, and we were forced to control their birth rate though without stopping it altogether,” Head Lion Keeper Angel Cordero explained.

The zoo started by giving contraceptives to the females, but found that they often couldn’t get pregnant when they came off them. In other cases, they rejected their cubs.

Now the alpha males have had vasectomies, while the other males are kept apart from the females as much as possible. The zoo hasn’t stopped the lions from breeding altogether, though. The day before CGTN visited the zoo, a lioness gave birth to five cubs.