Lions are now getting vasectomies due to a lion cub baby boom in zoos in Cuba.
Due to the high among of births in zoo parks in Cuba, with more than 500 births since late 80s, the authorities have decided to set up a program to control the fertility of lions in different zoo parks.
The Zoo park in Havana and the National Zoo Park on the outskirts of the Cuban capital have 45 African cubs in total, 17 of them male, what it is believed to be a high number of lions in those zoo parks.
Yamilet Rodriguez, biologist and director of Animal Wellfare of the Cuban Business Zoo in Cuba, said "we tried everything".
Firstly, lionesses were implanted with contraceptives under their skin, with hormones, but this method did not work because when the treatment ended, the lionesses were not able to get pregnant again.
Finally, they decided to act with the lions, with vasectomy, but not castration. "So that lions cannot impregnate lionesses but they can mount them", Rodriguez explained.
The decision of setting up methods to control births does not mean that the zoo parks are not doing planned breeding and they are trying to have some pregnant lionesses at the same time in order to avoid conflicts in the group.
Lionesses usually have an average of between two or three cubs, but in Cuba, the average was skewed six years ago when a lioness called Mariana gave birth to eight cubs.
Some of the lions living in Cuban zoos were given to them by the Namibian government two years ago, as they donated 144 animals of 24 different species. Other lions are descendents of those given by Tanzania when Fidel Castro, the former president, was in power in the 60s.