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Could Cincinnati Zoo lion be pregnant?

Cincinnati Zoo

Baby watch is on at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Zookeepers noticed three-year-old lion "Imani" was putting on weight and began speculating she might be pregnant. A pregnancy test indicates that just may be the case.

"An ultrasound is not an option for Imani," says Bill Swanson, Director of Animal Research at the Zoo’s Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW). "But elevated levels of progesterone in fecal samples and the presence of relaxin in urine provide presumptive evidence of pregnancy.”

Credit Cincinnati Zoo / Provided
Pregnancy tests for lions can be uncertain.

Given the difficulty in confirming the pregnancy the zoo says it won't really know the truth until November, when Imani would be expected to deliver.

From a release:

Keepers are not planning a baby shower until they’re PAWSitive that Imani is pregnant. Wendy Rice, one of Imani’s keepers, explained that pseudopregnancy (or “false” pregnancy) can cause the female’s body to exhibit signs and symptoms of pregnancy even if she’s not actually pregnant. “For this reason, we are not saying Imani’s pregnant! Instead, we are saying Imani might be pregnant!” said Rice.

Imani was born at the St. Louis Zoo in 2011. She was introduced to Cincinnati's male lion, "John," earlier this year.