Time to name Oregon Zoo's lion cubs — and you can vote online

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PORTLAND — Voters, sharpen up your (electronic) pencils. It's time to name three female African lion cubs born Sept. 7 at the Oregon Zoo.

And in case you'd hoped to name one of them — oh, let's say, "Katy" — forget it.

The zoo's keepers already have picked two possible names for each cub. Members of the public can vote for their favorites from those pre-selected options on the zoo's website, oregonzoo.org, through Wednesday. Winning names will be announced Thursday.

The International Species Information System numbered the cubs from the smallest cub to the biggest.

No. 7, the litter's runt, remains way smaller than her sisters. Her health has improved following nine days in the zoo's Veterinary Medical Center shortly after she was born. She was weak, lethargic and failed to nurse adequately. Her white blood-cell count was off, too, and veterinarians suspected infection.

According to the zoo, here are name options keepers have come up with for her:

Kamali: Among the Shona people of Zimbabwe and surrounding regions, Kamali is the name of a spirit believed to protect babies from death.

Mara: after the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Keepers considered her mild temperament when selecting name options for Cub. No. 8, the middle-sized of the three. Those choices:

Zalika: Swahili for "well-born," which they say is a nod to the cubs' father, Zawadi Mungu, also reported to be mild-tempered.

Jelani: Swahili for mighty or powerful.

And then there's Big Bertha, or cub No. 9, who weighed almost twice as much as her tiniest sister at their first weigh-in. She's outspoken, assertive and a chowhound.

"She's definitely more interested in food than the others," said Laura Weiner, senior keeper for the zoo's Africa section.

"We've nicknamed her Feisty."

However, keepers selected a couple of different options for her permanent name:

Mashavu: Swahili for "chubby-cheeked," according to the zoo.

Angalia: Swahili for "look out" or "be careful."

Their parents are Neka and Zawadi Mungu, brought to the zoo in 2009 to occupy the then-new Predators of the Serengeti exhibit and to breed. They share space with another adult female, Kya, who also is recommended for breeding in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan.

The zoo hasn't specified when the public will have a chance to see the cubs, which have been confined to an off-exhibit maternity den. The zoo plans to post updates regarding cub viewing on its Facebook page.