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Great Cat News

Quirky Personalities, Training Triumphs, & Big Changes

May 27, 2015

What does it take to keep up with a sextuplet of juvenile African lions? In the latest Keeper Q & A, Rebecca Stites and Kristen Clark discuss the cubs growth, enrichment, training, eating habits, and more!

Recent News

The Lion Cubs are Turning 1

February 19, 2015

January 24 and March 2 mark our African lion cubs first birthdays! Animal keepers Kristen Clark and Rebecca Stites reveal what's new with the cubs in the latest Q&A!

Bandar and Sukacita are Growing Up Fast

December 17, 2014

Keepers Marie Magnuson and Dell Guglielmo, along with curator Craig Saffoe, talk about training, separating from mom Damai, and the possibility of new cubs in the latest Q & A.

Lion Cub Training

October 20, 2014

The six lion cubs at the Great Cats Exhibit are growing fast and their husbandry training sessions are in full swing! Parents Luke, Naba and Shera have their paws full with the rambunctious cubs—but it's our animal care team's challenge to care for the entire pride.

Watch the Smithsonian Channel's Video on Lions

September 15, 2014

The Smithsonian Channel filmed a video featuring the lions at the National Zoo!

Tiger Cubs Turn One

July 28, 2014

The Great Cats exhibit is celebrating two very special birthdays on August 5: Sumatran tigers Bandar and Sukacita are turning one year old!

Visit the Lion Cubs

July 1, 2014

Shera's four cubs have made their big debut at the Great Cats exhibit! The cubs have already passed several milestones (the swim test, meeting dad, and so on). Next on their agenda is to be named!

Tiger Cubs Feeding Update

April 25, 2014

Read about the tiger cubs diet. In their native habitat, a Sumatran tiger mother and her cubs would eat their prey together as a group. To align our tiger's experience with those of their wild cousins, keepers also feed Damai, Bandar, and Sukacita as one group. They receive about 77 pounds of meat each week (about 11 pounds per day).

Watch a Tiger Enrichment Video

March 6, 2014

The Washington, D.C. winter weather has been particularly cold and snowy this year. On days where it’s too cold to go outside, we give the cubs a few enrichment items to play with indoors to keep them active and engaged.

Lion Cubs Born March 2

March 4, 2014

African lion Shera gave birth to a litter of 4 at the Great Cats exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. These cubs are the second litter for Shera and the fifth for 8-year-old father, Luke. Recently, Luke also sired 10-year-old Nababiep's two female cubs born on January 24

Bandar and Sukacita Begin Training

January 30, 2014

Bandar and Sukacita have started basic training—shifting inside when called and teaching them to eat on their own and become less dependent on mom. We haven't observed nursing for some time now, so we are almost certain they're weaned off Damai's milk.

Lion Cubs Born January 24

January 27, 2014

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Great Cats team celebrated the arrival of its first litter of African lion cubs in four years.

Past Updates

Tiger Updates from 2013


Read all the 2013 updates on our tigers here. The past year has been filled with a lot of tiger progress involving the tiger cubs Bandar and Sukacita.

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and National Zoo Launches Endangered Song Project

April 22, 2013

On Earth Day 2014, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute launched the “Endangered Song Project,” an analog-meets-digital outreach campaign that asked 400 participants to help raise awareness about the fact that there are only 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild.

New Genetics Research on Leopards and Tigers in India Underscores the Importance of Protecting Forest Corridors

January 14, 2013

Scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute have used genetic analysis to find that the natural forest corridors in India are essential to ensuring a future for these species. According to two studies recently published in two papers, these corridors are successfully connecting populations of tigers and leopards to ensure genetic diversity and gene flow.

Lion Archives from 2012


2012 brought many changes to the Great Cat Hill! Naba and Shera's cubs turned 2, Zuri and Fahari went to the San Diego Zoo, and Aslan and Baruti headed to the Calgary Zoo.

Tiger Archives from 2012


Read all the updates on our tigers here. 2012 brought many changes to our tiger habitat, including saying goodby to Guntar who was going to Japan and introducing Damai to her first winter.

Fishing Cat Kittens Explore Their Yard

August 23, 2012

Visitors to the Smithsonian's National Zoo can now see its three-month-old fishing cat kittens exploring, playing, climbing and fishing on Asia Trail.

Twin Fishing Cats Born at the National Zoo—a First

June 13, 2012

The Smithsonian's National Zoo is closer to cracking the code for breeding one of Asia's most elusive species with the birth of two fishing cats (Prionailurus viverrinus). Seven-year-old Electra delivered the kittens between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. May 18 in an off-exhibit den. Their birth marks an important milestone: this is the first time fishing cats have successfully bred and produced young at the National Zoo.

Smithsonian Researchers Use Non-Invasive Techniques to Look at Genetic Diversity in Leopards from a Distance

April 18, 2012

Researchers at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute have spent years developing genetic techniques that use more easily acquired samples, and their latest success uses scat, or feces, collected from wild leopards living in the highlands of India.