National Zoo welcomes four new lion cubs

The Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington welcomed four lion cubs on Wednesday, after its nine-year-old African lion endured a seven-hour delivery.

It will be several months before the public gets to meet the cubs, as they will be in a private den with their mother, Shera. There, they will be able to bond without the presence of the father or other members of the pride.

Zoo staff will closely monitor them via a closed-circuit webcam.

Over the past two decades, the number of African lions in the wild has decreased by 30 percent, due to poaching and disease, among other factors.

The population decline led the International Union for Conservation of Nature to declare the African lion a vulnerable species.