Wild Animal Park's lion cubs celebrate birthday
7:54 p.m. November 11, 2008
SAN DIEGO WILD ANIMAL PARK – There were presents for eight lion cubs celebrating their first birthdays Tuesday, but the real gift was for visitors who got to watch them play with cardboard packages, piñatas and other treats.
Keepers at the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park also gave the cubs two lion-sized birthday cakes made from a smorgasbord of ice, bones, smelt and spleen, said San Diego Zoo spokeswoman Yadira Galindo. The eight feisty felines – born in three different litters – are now weaned from their mothers. They made their first public debut at the park near Escondido in late January.
The four males and four females have formed their own pride in the park's Lion Camp and share favorite snoozing spots, park officials said.
According to a blog posted Monday on the park's Web site by keeper Amy Whidden Winter, the biggest of the eight is Zawadi, a male who weighs 198 pounds. Ranking smallest is his sister, Tamu, at 151 pounds,
Kaya, pictured here, is "bold with new objects and is often one of the first ones to explore new enrichment items," and she'll hoard bones from the other cubs, Winter wrote.
Ingozi, also pictured here, "has a sweet, almost comical disposition," she said.
To help keepers tell them apart, each has an identifying shaved patch of fur.
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org