Lion Update Jan 15, 2012
The Great Cats team plans on keeping the separation process gradual in order to minimize stress. We'll keep you posted about the process and timing as we go. To start, lion keeper Rebecca Stites will be monitoring the behaviors of the juvenile males for a couple of weeks before the separation process begins.
Starting January 2, volunteers from the lion behavior watch team have been posted in front of the lion yard to record data on the juvenile males. Behaviors related to social interactions, territorial markings, anxiety, and environmental interactions will be noted every four minutes. Once the males are separated from the pride, Rebecca and the behavior watch team will repeat the study for comparison.
We hope you'll come by to observe their behaviors too, but please refrain from interrupting the behavior watchers (the nice people carrying clipboards). It takes a lot of concentration to keep track of multiple animals moving around the yard. Keepers (wearing grey shirts and khakis) and Zoo Guides (wearing red shirts-- without clipboards) are often visible passing by the lion yard and are always happy to answer questions you may have during your visit!
Wondering how much the Zoo's young lions have grown during the past couple of months? Lusaka and Fahari are currently tied for smallest at 216 pounds while Baruti is in the lead—weighing in at 272 pounds! That's the size of our full-grown male Sumatran tiger, Guntur! It's no wonder with all the food they are eating. These guys scarf down about eight to ten pounds per day. Think that's a lot? Our entire pride consumes nearly 600 pounds of food each week!!!
Stay tuned—updates will be coming a bit more quickly over the next few months as our pride begins to change.