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King Xerxes picks names for lion cubs

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications
Photos by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

With the help of zoo fans, proud papa Xerxes chose Gandia and Mandla as names to complement Tandie, the first name chosen by community members in an online poll.

Here comes trouble! Tandie, Gandia and Mandla get a snarl of approval from dad Xerxes.
Tandie: meaning fire
Gandia: meaning clever
Mandla: meaning power/strength

Naming lion triplets is not an easy task, so we asked you to help parents Adia and Xerxes with the decision. First, 10 names were selected by the zoo’s lion keepers and derived from languages that reflect parts of the South African lion’s native range. Then, during the zoo’s two-week online naming poll, voters chose their top preferences. On Tuesday we revealed the name with the most votes, Tandie (meaning “fire”). Mom Adia and dad Xerxes weighed in today to choose from runners up Gandia, Mandla and Pule. 

Xerxes scopes out the goods...
Keepers used this opportunity to introduce the new family to some enticing enrichment. They presented Adia and Xerxes with three items, each associated with a name. As Xerxes crested the hill to sniff out the enrichment, mom Adia was more interested in tending to the cubs, who were zipping all over the yard.

Xerxes strolled right up to “Gandia,” and very deliberately stuck his nose deep into the zebra-painted grocery sack… and the second name was official!

Xerxes did not hesitate for a moment when it came to picking names for his cubs.
Every important decision takes time, so Xerxes thoughtfully chewed on his meat treat from the “Gandia” bag for a moment. Then, after a slight pause, Xerxes made “Mandla” official by ripping the next bag to shreds.

Adia, being the fantastic mom that she is, put on quite the display when she stared down the onlookers. She was patient at first, but after a few too many cameras showed up she was all too ready to defend her family. A hair-raising growl reminded us all that no one better mess with these cubs!

Adia has her paws full with these three!
And what were the cubs doing while this momentous naming was taking place?

Nothing like a good dirt grovel to celebrate new names!
The three boys were somewhat interested in the meat treat enrichment, but they were way more absorbed in watching mom and dad—and climbing trees—and chasing the ducks.

Congratulations little cubs, now we just have to remember who is who!

Hanging with dad during bath time.
The cubs’ outdoor schedule remains intermittent. As warmer, dry weather allows, the cubs will continue to make increased appearances in the zoo’s award-winning African Savanna exhibit.