Photos: Tucson zoo unveils lion cubs

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This is a big week in the lives of three African lion cubs born at Tucson's Reid Park Zoo. Meet Ayotunde, Azizi and Abuto! By Catherine Holland This is a big week in the lives of three African lion cubs born at Tucson's Reid Park Zoo. Meet Ayotunde, Azizi and Abuto! By Catherine Holland
This is a big week in the lives of three African lion cubs born at Tucson's Reid Park Zoo. Meet Ayotunde, Azizi and Abuto! By Catherine Holland This is a big week in the lives of three African lion cubs born at Tucson's Reid Park Zoo. Meet Ayotunde, Azizi and Abuto! By Catherine Holland
This is a big week in the lives of three African lion cubs born at Tucson's Reid Park Zoo. Meet Ayotunde, Azizi and Abuto! By Catherine Holland This is a big week in the lives of three African lion cubs born at Tucson's Reid Park Zoo. Meet Ayotunde, Azizi and Abuto! By Catherine Holland
This is a big week in the lives of three African lion cubs born at Tucson's Reid Park Zoo. Meet Ayotunde, Azizi and Abuto! By Catherine Holland This is a big week in the lives of three African lion cubs born at Tucson's Reid Park Zoo. Meet Ayotunde, Azizi and Abuto! By Catherine Holland
This is a big week in the lives of three African lion cubs born at Tucson's Reid Park Zoo. Meet Ayotunde, Azizi and Abuto! By Catherine Holland This is a big week in the lives of three African lion cubs born at Tucson's Reid Park Zoo. Meet Ayotunde, Azizi and Abuto! By Catherine Holland

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- This is a big week in the lives of three African lion cubs born at Tucson's Reid Park Zoo.

Ayotunde, Azizi and Abuto will get to greet Tucsonans beginning Tuesday. Since being born to mother, Kaya in in late July, they have been kept on close watch to ensure healthy growth.

KOLD-TV reports the cubs will have their first access to the lion habitat while the zoo's veterinarian and lion keeper share stories about the cubs with guests.

Beginning Wednesday, everyone else will get their chance to see the new cubs up close at the Reid Park Zoo.

For now, the cubs will have access to their exhibit only during the morning hours, heading back inside at about noon.

The babies, two males and one females, are young enough that they tire out easily so they will rest periodically off exhibit. That means getting to the zoo early will give you a better chance of seeing Ayotunde, Azizi (the female) and Abuto.

Shombay, the cubs' father, will be on display in the afternoon.

There's no word yet on when Ayotunde, Azizi and Abuto will be on exhibit full time.

Ayotunde means "joy has returned" in Yorùbá, which is a Niger-Congo language spoken in West Africa. Azizi means "precious" and Abuto means "I have hidden."

The African lion is the largest of Africa's big cats. When full grown, males can weigh as much as 550 pounds. Females, which do most of the hunting for the pride, are generally smaller, weighing less than 400 pounds.

While lions have a life span of about 10 to 14 years in the wild, they can live longer than 20 years in captivity.

Kaya will likely nurse her cubs until they are about 8 months old although caretakers will probably introduce meat into their diet sooner. In general, mother lions take care of their cubs until they are about 2 years old. That's about the time she will be ready to producer a new litter.

Reid Park Zoo is located at 1100 S. Randolph Way, Tucson. The zoo opens at 9 a.m. daily.