The Great Cats exhibit on Lion/Tiger Hill features Sumatran tigers and African lions—living, breathing, roaring great cats. They are ambassadors for their wild relatives, and for the Zoo's conservation and science initiatives for tigers, lions, and many other cats, which, even if not great in size, are still great!
Lions and tigers are on exhibit between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., daily (weather permitting).
Today, Nababeip’s two cubs received their second routine veterinary exam. At almost a month and a half old, they weigh between 16 and 17 pounds. They both got a clean bill of health! Keepers also had the opportunity to get a first hands-on look at Shera’s four cubs. We were able to get individual weights on the cubs, and give them each an identifying shave mark. Shera’s cubs weigh between four and five pounds at just under a week of age, and their eyes have recently opened!
This is the earliest our keepers have ever been able to weigh lion cubs. Shera’s five-day-old cubs had very similar weights to Naba’s cubs when they were six days old. The last time Shera and Naba gave birth, keepers waited until each litter was at least two weeks old before weighing them. Obtaining weights and collecting lots of information about the cubs early on helps keepers learn more about what is normal for lion cubs.
Last week, keepers at the Great Cats exhibit put a GoPro camera in the den with Naba’s cubs while mom was outside enjoying the sunshine. At first, the girls were a bit wary of the cam—hissing and stepping gingerly around it. Within 20 minutes, however, they felt comfortable going right up to the cam and even knocked it over!
Adding a novel items to the lions’ environment is part of the Zoo’s enrichment program. Not only do they physically and mentally stimulate the Zoo’s residents, but also encourage animals to use their natural abilities and behaviors in new and exciting ways. Enrichment is an integral part of daily care and helps keepers ensure the Zoo’s animals have a high quality of life.
You can help contribute to the Zoo’s enrichment program by donating to our Giving Tree.
Sumatran tiger cubs Bandar and Sukacita turned seven months old yesterday! Both are growing fast—Bandar weighs 88 pounds, and Sukacita weighs 73 pounds.
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.
In the video below, you’ll see Bandar is having a grand old time with this burlap sack (stuffed with hay). To ensure each enrichment experience is new and exciting—we vary the types of items they get. On any given day, the cubs could receive a water tub to play in, boomer balls, or scented enrichment. And depending on their mood, one cub may want an item more than the other cub. Or, they may want it equally and play tug-o-war for it! Sukacita doesn’t appear to be interested in the sack in this video. But if she wanted it, she would have put up more of a fight and wrestled with her brother for it.
We’ve had several days where the bitter cold of winter was broken with some welcomed sunshine and warmth. Mom Damai and the cubs certainly enjoy their time in the yard. The cubs are still honing their hunting skills by sneaking up on one another and mom—who seems to enjoy the chase as much as they do! Visit the Zoo and see them every day from noon until they are ready to come inside (weather permitting).
There are cats all over the Zoo! Tigers and lions live at Great Cats, with caracals right next door. Cheetahs live at the Zoo's Cheetah Conservation Station. Fishing cats and clouded leopards live on Asia Trail. A sand cat lives in the Small Mammal House. → Learn about cats at the Zoo.
Large or small, cats are graceful, specialized, and powerful animals. Yet, they are among the most endangered. Zoo conservation biologists are working with colleagues on lions' home ground in Africa, and tigers' in Asia, to develop the scientific understanding necessary for effective conservation. Zoo scientists are studying the ecology, behavior, and reproductive biology of tigers, lions, and many other cat species, including cheetahs, clouded leopards, and fishing cats.