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Happy 1st Birthday, Cublets!

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, Communications


Happy Birthday dear Nobuhle, Busela, Pelo and Rudo! Our foursome of frisky lion cubs celebrated their first trip around the sun today with a lot of gnawing, pawing and yes…yawning.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo.


The cubs were born one year ago on November 8th. Today, the young lions received balls and bones in specially scented boxes as well as their favorite treat, bloodsicles (frozen carnivore ice pops) to celebrate their 1st birthday.
Here’s a recap of the birthday party antics:
Zookeeper Christine Fenwick started prepping for the event early this week by painting the large cardboard boxes in which to hide the birthday prizes. “The cubs have never had boxes this large,” she explained. “They are going to love ripping into them!” Christine painted the boxes with a simple non-toxic acrylic, safe for cub handling. Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

Mom Adia was first on the scene and the cubs hung back to let her check out the mysterious packages at the far end of the exhibit. Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo.


Slowly, very slowly, and suspiciously, the cubs followed their brave mama to a little hill above the enrichment boxes. Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo. 

Adia was pretty quick to smash into the big box with her name on it; she seemed to know exactly which one was intended for her! Then, she sniffed out the other smaller boxes, but didn’t rip into any of them. Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo.
After seeing mom check out the novel items, the cubs cautiously sniffed and pawed at the boxes, daintily licked the bloodsicles and finally began to dig in. Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo.

A tiny lion nibble. Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo.

Busela grabbed the biggest bone and paraded it around before settling down on the hot rock to snack. Her brothers were more interested in nipping each other than the enrichment and sister Nobuhle mostly lounged around on the hill, in true teenage lion fashion, and watched the others investigate the cardboard boxes.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo.

Playing bite the mom. Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo.
The lions get enrichment every day, as do all of our animals as part of our excellent animal care program,  but birthdays are indeed extra special. Keeper Christine tells us a little about the cubs’ choice delicacies.
Nobuhle, who is a lot like her father, Hubert, prefers to languidly check out all the enrichment, play with her sibs and doesn’t mind sharing her toys.
Pelo, our rowdy young male, really digs pumpkins, like really a lot. During Pumpkin Bash, the keepers stuck a few pumpkins on the notches of a log. When Pelo discovered this, he began to spin the pumpkin like a prize wheel until the entire thing fell apart in his claws.
Rudo, the shyer male, is more reserved around his keepers, but gets very possessive with scented items. A connoisseur of the finer eau de warthog poop, Rudo will pick up a scented paper towel tube and parade it around the exhibit like a victory flag.
Busela is a little roughian, and enjoys teasing her siblings. Her favorite part of enrichment activities might just be nipping her brothers.


Cub stares down an elusive bloodsicle. Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo.

All of the cubs really love the bloodsicles, which are by far their preferred delicacy.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo.

Mama Adia, still a young lion herself, is generally pretty content to let her cubs have first dibs on enrichment items, but when the cubs wear themselves out, you can bet that Adia will get her own play time in too!

Paws up for birthday relaxing! Photo by Ryan Hawk/ Woodland Park Zoo.

With a year of healthy growth alongside their mother, Adia, Woodland Park Zoo’s animal management staff is now making plans to move the cubs to other zoos in 2014. The cubs will become part of the Species Survival Plan, a conservation breeding program across accredited zoos, and will someday birth new cubs of their own.
Happy Birthday lion cubs! Thank you Adia for being such a wonderful mama! And special thanks to our keepers for the incredible dedication and animal care they give this beautiful feline family.






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