Now 12 weeks old, the lion cubs are active and hardy—and outgrowing their maternity den. We’re just starting to give the cubs their first little practice sessions outside to get them ready for their upcoming public debut. We’ll share more with you tomorrow on how the private sessions are going. But today, we thought it would be fun to share the hidden side of the story—all the work that goes on behind the scenes to prepare the cubs for their outdoor adventures.
Heading outside for the first time is a big milestone for the cubs. They are a rambunctious foursome and are constantly at play in the comfort of their behind-the-scenes maternity den. But we have noticed the cubs are often hesitant when it comes to new experiences. So the keepers came up with a great solution to help the cubs get ready for the experience—bring the outdoors indoor!
Video: Lion cubs discover grass and sticks! Produced by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
These early, positive experiences are meant to give the cubs a boost of confidence. The sensory overload awaiting them outdoors won't be as overwhelming if they can pick out familiar sights and smells.
The countdown to their introduction outdoors had a few more variables at play. There is the weather, for one, though the forecast is currently in our favor. We also had to check that the cubs’ antibodies have built up through the vaccinations they have been receiving. That boost to their immune system is essential before they can be exposed to the outdoors. During their latest vet check-up, the cubs had blood drawn to test for antibody levels, and all is good!
|Lion cub veterinary exam at 12 weeks old. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.|
As you can see, there is much care that goes on behind the scenes before the cubs can come out to play! That day should be coming in the very near future though. We’ll be sure to announce when the cubs are ready to make their official public debut. Stay tuned!