The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium welcomed three lion cubs and a new gorilla to its collection last week.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium welcomed three lion cubs and a new gorilla to its collection last week.

Three African lions were born on Sept. 22 -- an occurrence that hasn't happened at the zoo since 1985.

Lewis Greene, assistant zoo director for animal care and conservation, said the Association of Zoos and Aquariums recommended the zoo breed two lions, Asali and Tomo. The zoo put the lions together and 92 days later, the lion cubs arrived, he said.

Although no one at the zoo has gotten a chance to get close to the cubs yet, Greene said they appear to be in good health.

"We're able to monitor them with a closed-circuit camera. We have seen them in the sense that we're able to look at them with the video camera," he said. "What we see right now is the cubs seem to be nursing and healthy.

"We also have a microphone (in the den) and let me assure you, their vocal cords are well-developed. They're pretty noisy."

The father, Tomo, has been removed from the area with the cubs but the mother, Asali, appears to be doing well with her babies, Greene said.

"She's a first-time mom and she's doing a marvelous job," he said. "With first-time moms we worry a little bit: will their instincts kick in? But she's doing well."

Both the public and the father will be introduced to the cubs down the road. According to a news release from the zoo, the cubs will remain in the den for a few months and cold weather could delay their debut.

"(Tomo) will be introduced to them at a later date when they're a little older," Greene said. "They also have an aunt in the exhibit. When the cubs are the appropriate age they will be introduced (to other lions) and we'll work on having a pride."

The cubs may not have a permanent home in Columbus, though. According to Greene, the cubs will likely be shipped to other zoos in a few years for breeding and growing the lion population.

"The cubs probably will stay I'm guessing a year or two," he said. "At some point they will be identified and will be sent to other zoos where they will more than likely be put into situations where they can breed."

The zoo's other newest tenant will not be immediately put on view, but 18-year-old lowland gorilla Oliver T. Barney can be seen after about a month of standard quarantine.

Oliver will eventually be put in one of the zoo's three gorilla groups, but Greene said he's unsure which group right now.

Oliver comes to Columbus from the Gorilla Haven in Georgia, which provides a haven or temporary holding place for zoo gorillas.

Once on display, Oliver will hold the distinction of being the zoo's only deaf gorilla. A news release from the zoo said they are unsure what caused the condition. Greene said the zoo is not anticipating any problems.

"Oliver has learned to exist in a world without sound. He will be more cognizant of facial expressions and motions," he said. "The keepers will figure out how to communicate with him."

Oliver's deafness could help him in his new habitat, Greene said. "There are two male silverbacks that are loud. When they vocalize Oliver's not going to care," he said. "It's not going to upset him."

Oliver will likely father offspring at the zoo. Greene said his parents were not born in captivity.

"There's not a recommendation (for a pairing) right now, but we know there will be because Oliver's parents both came from the wild," he said.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.