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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Lion cubs take practice steps outside with mom and dad

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor


Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Did you get outside to enjoy the fresh air today? You weren't the only one! The three lion cubs took their first steps outdoors for a practice session to get them ready for their upcoming (soon to be announced!) public debut. And they were in some mighty big company.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

At 11 weeks old, the cubs are ready to stretch their legs, and today’s weather was perfect for a quick dip outside.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Up until now, the cubs have been spending their days behind the scenes with mom Adia in a den area where they've had a quiet space to nurse, bond and grow. In recent weeks, the cubs and Adia were joined by dad Xerxes for at least 30 minutes a day. This is especially exciting as the father of Adia's first litter, Hubert, was not around her cubs. (He spent his time with another female, Kalissa. The two have since relocated together to Los Angeles Zoo.) Thankfully Adia's bond is strong with first time dad, Xerxes, and now we have a full pride!

Today marked the first time the pride took their family bonding to the great outdoors.

And, boy, was it amazing to see!

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

We might call him the king of the African Savanna, but it was pretty clear that Xerxes wasn't running the show. That role goes to Adia, who is a fantastic mom. She shows patience with the kids and keeps them from getting themselves into any danger.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Xerxes is still getting to know the cubs, and he is equal parts curious and cautious around the squirmy, little critters. Adia is remarkably tolerant, but she’ll step in between if she sees rough play or anything else she doesn't like.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

It didn't take too long before Xerxes had his fill of the fun and retired to a rock perch to sit back and get away from it all. And lucky for him, the rock was juuuuuuust high enough to be out of reach of the cubs, who jumped their little hearts out trying to get up there!

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

The cubs had a ball taking in all the wonders before them: Mud! Water! Rocks! Clumps of grass! And, oh, those clumps of grass…they sure did love them. What’s so great about a clump of grass? You can bite it, you can stomp on it, you can crawl through it, and you can spring attack your brothers with it!

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Their little outdoor adventure lasted no more than 1 hour and was enough to wipe them out. They’ll be sleeping through the night, that’s for sure!

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

A few more practice sessions like this as the weather cooperates, and soon the cubs will be ready to officially debut. Please know that because of these intro sessions, we cannot guarantee any viewing hours at the lion exhibit right now, and you may encounter some barriers at the exhibit when space or quiet is needed for the family. Your patience will be greatly rewarded once the family settles in comfortably in the coming weeks. We’ll be sure to share updates when the viewing schedule comes together.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

In the meantime, we’ll be looking for your help to name our cubs. Look for an announcement next week!

We leave you with this video of pure joy:


Video: Lion cubs explore the great outdoors at Woodland Park Zoo. Video by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

11 comments:

  1. Wonderful photos and video! Now here's the whine: is there any chance that scratched-up, fogged-up window in the under-cover viewing area will be replaced soon? Even some of Ryan Hawk's incredible photos look like they come from Behind the Blur. Thanks for the blog: I love it.

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  2. Megan, I heard today that the glass will be replaced within the month!! And yes, all the photos were shot through that glass... some I just got lucky with. Thanks for the comments! -- Ryan

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    1. Great news! Your photos are special: they shouldn't have to look like they were shot through the fog.

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  3. Ohhhhh!!!! What wonderful pictures and videos!!! I am just in love with those baby boys!! Can't wait to see them in person.
    Thank you Woodland Park for sharing!!!

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  4. Would the visitors completely out of the view of the full pride when they are in the practice session? Can we reach the non-cover viewing area next to the monkey area? Would you please clarify how the barriers would be placed. Thank you.

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    1. Great questions. We have to play it by ear a bit depending on the size of crowds and what the animals need. But generally if we're using any barriers, it's only in the covered viewing shelter area. They generally are set a few feet back from the glass, so it's still possible to do some viewing from the area. This mostly helps maintain the noise level and gives protective mom Adia some space to feel more comfortable. The outdoor viewing areas around the exhibit will typically not have barriers in place. And since the cubs have full use of the exhibit when they are outside, viewing is possible from any of these areas.

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    2. Thank you for the additional information.

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  5. How exciting! Can I ask why Hubert didn't join his cubs a couple years back? Was it getting to know another mate, not enough paternal instinct, etc?

    Loved the video! I'm looking forward to seeing the pride in person some time.

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    1. The challenge with Hubert was that he was bonded with a different female, his long-time partner, Kalissa. This time around the cubs' father, Xerxes, is closely bonded with the cubs' mom, Adia, and she is his only mate. Xerxes has a mellow personality and was a prime candidate for integrating with the cubs. We had high hopes, and we're so glad to see it working out!

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    2. Thanks for the information. I'm glad Xerxes is working out well as a mate and a parent.

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  6. Looking forward to seeing more photos and videos.

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