African Lion | Great Cats
Get a peek behind the scenes of our Great Cats habitat from animal keeper Rebecca Stites! “Every Thursday, the lions take turns standing on the scale while I read their weights. It's a super easy way to earn a special tasty treat--meatballs! Six year old Amahle almost always insists on going first. Her mother, Shera, usually follows. Aunt Naba goes last and tends to linger in the hopes of receiving a little something extra. Sometimes it works! In this video, they weighed 332 lbs., 335 lbs., and 335 lbs., respectively.
“Amahle's brothers, Jumbe and Shaka, were also weighed. Jumbe was a steady 470 lbs., while Shaka tipped the scale at 500 lbs.! Both boys are lean muscle machines and weigh quite a bit more than their father, Luke. While not cooperative today (laying down behind the scale doesn't exactly count as participation), Luke usually weighs around 390 lbs.
“A healthy body condition is important for maintaining the overall health of our animals. Acquiring weekly weights allows the lion animal care team (which includes keepers, curators, veterinarians, and nutritionist) to better understand each individual’s gain and loss trend based on environmental and management factors.
“As we move into summer, the lions’ energy levels will change. (You may have noticed they do a lot of 'lion' around in warm weather.) At that time, we usually methodically decrease their daily allotment of food; otherwise, their weights would climb.
“Tracking weight change is just one tool used to determine healthy body condition. During daily training sessions, we do visual assessments to look for any cuts, bumps or scrapes that may need veterinary attention. We also look for any behaviors that are out of the ordinary, as that could indicate that a lion isn’t feeling well. Combined, these tools help us ensure our lions are maintained at their healthiest and happiest body weights!”