Friday, September 01, 2006
By Emily Ingram
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Running, jumping, climbing and pouncing, three lion cubs made their debut at Cameron Park Zoo on Thursday.
The South African cubs — two males and one female — took their first public romp through the South African Lion Exhibit at the Waco zoo. Although they don’t have names yet, zoo officials said visitors can help name the cubs.
“They’re the new jewels,” zoo director Jim Fleshman said. “Each one has a different personality. The little female is really special because we have such a vested interest. One (of the males) is just a trouble maker, and the other one, he thinks he’s a tough guy.”
Zoo lions Sam Jack and Shamfa gave birth to a litter of five cubs June 13, Fleshman said. Two died from infection in the first month, and zoo staff were concerned the firstborn cub, the female, wouldn’t survive a spinal injury, Fleshman said.
Through weeks of hands-on care and continual observation, the female is doing well and gaining weight. Zoo staff are helping correct her wobbly walk with physical therapy, Fleshman said.
The cubs will spend a few hours each day in the outside exhibit away from their parents for viewing this weekend when visitors will vote on their names, Fleshman said.
Zookeeper and lion caretaker Rachel Huber feels a special bond with the cubs. Her daughter, Savanah Dawn, was born the same day as the cubs.
“We had actually talked about it, the keepers, that they’d be born on the same day,” Huber said, adding that her daughter’s name was one of two considered for the female lion.
“I think they both like the attention, that’s for sure,” Huber said of her daughter and the cubs.