Great Cats

National Zoo's

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).

Lion Update: March 24, 2014

These last two weeks have brought some new and exciting experiences for our lion families! Naba allowed her 8-week-old cubs to meet their aunt Shera at a mesh "howdy" door. In the wild, a lioness would wait for a period of time before introducing her cubs to the rest of the pride.

Following Naba's lead, keepers began introductions between Naba, Shera, and Naba's cubs. Aside from a few grumbles sparked by Naba's cubs biting at Shera's tail, the intros have been smooth. The cubs now weigh about 21 lbs!

African Lion Naba's Cubs at the Smithsonian's National Zoo

Shera has not yet introduced her cubs to Naba, but will likely do so in the coming weeks. Late last week, Zoo veterinarians were able to perform a quick exam on the cubs. They weigh between 8-9 lbs. And we now know the sexes! We have 3 males and 1 female!

African Lion Shera's Cubs at the Smithsonian's National Zoo

You can help contribute to the Zoo’s enrichment program by donating to our Giving Tree.

Read more about the lion cubs.

Tiger Update: March 6, 2014

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).

Read more about the tiger cubs.

Lots of Cats

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.

Cat Conservation

Clouded leopards at the National 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.