Lion cubs boost Colorado zoo attendance

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Zoo receives 500 entries to name cubs in contest to name cubs


Pueblo Zoo officials have received more than 500 entries – some from as far away as Alaska – with suggested names for the zoo’s three lion cubs.

Entries were due last Friday for a contest held by the zoo and The Pueblo Chieftain to name the two females and one male.

The winners, one for each cub name, will be announced March 4, according to Sunny Davis, the zoo’s marketing director.

The contest received national media attention and Davis said many entries came from well outside Southern Colorado.

“A gentlemen asked for an entry form to be faxed to him at a town in Alaska,” she said.

Most of the submissions have come from Pueblo and other Southern Colorado communities.

The submitters of the three winning names will have their names published in the zoo’s newsletter and posted next to the lion exhibit, along with the names of the cubs, until Sept. 30.

The winners also will receive a one-year family membership to the zoo, a lion cub T-shirt and a lion cub stuffed toy.

The South African lion cubs share a father, Jahari, but come from different mothers, sisters Ulana and Saida. All three adult lions live at the Pueblo Zoo.

Two of the cubs, a male and a female, were born Oct. 4, along with another male cub that died. The third cub was born Nov. 3. Both mothers refused to care for their cubs, which now weigh 30-40 pounds. The cubs were fed and raised by hand by zoo workers.

A nine-member committee will choose the winning names, according to Davis. The committee is made up of zookeepers, zoo administrators and zoo board members.

The committee is scheduled to meet next week to narrow the three lists of name suggestions.

Davis said the winners will be chosen by a vote.

African names were heavily represented in the suggested names, Davis said. But there were plenty of other submissions too.

“We’ve also gotten Italian names, we’ve gotten Spanish names, we’ve gotten Pueblo-area names,” Davis said. “We’ve also had Japanese, Greek, Latin and Tibetan names.

“And then you’ve got the cute little cuddly names too,” she said, “and I’ve not even through them all.”

Davis said some of the names submitted were so good that if they aren’t chosen for the cubs, the names will be kept on file and used for other animals that come to the zoo.

The cubs have earned a large following, Davis said. The zoo lowered admission to just $2 for the first two Sundays after the contest was announced Feb. 8 and a large number of people came to see them.

“They’ve gotten really attached to these lions,” Davis said, “which we can relate to, because we’re really attached to them.”

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