Today 20th Century Fox and Walden Media presented a monetary gift to support the National Zoo’s great-cat conservation, research and public education. Actors Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes from the new motion picture Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader joined Zoo Director Dennis Kelly and lion keepers to name one of the Zoo’s seven lion cubs Aslan after the majestic lion in the movie.
“We are grateful to 20th Century Fox and Walden Media for their generosity and proud to name one of our cubs after the character in the beloved books by C.S. Lewis,” Kelly said. “The fictional Aslan is wise, fearless and regal. The real-life Aslan will play a key role in conservation as an ambassador for his species.”
Aslan is one of three lion cubs born Sept. 22 and one of seven cubs born at the Zoo this year. The two litters are the result of years of careful research and observation and the first for the Zoo in more than 20 years. Aslan was born to female lion Nababiep and male lion Luke. The other cubs will be named by keepers, Zoo supporters and through a naming contest open to everyone. Early this morning, Henley and Keynes met Aslan.
“We are very excited to be a part of this very special event,” said Henley. “The fictional Aslan and his world have been such an important part of our lives for the past several years.”
Keynes added: “It’s wonderful to see how he’s inspired these important conservation efforts.”
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader opens in theaters everywhere tomorrow, Dec. 10. In this motion picture event, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie (played by Keynes and Henley), along with their cousin Eustace, are swallowed into a painting and transported back to Narnia and the magnificent ship the Dawn Treader. They join King Caspian and a warrior mouse named Reepicheep for a mission that holds the fate of Narnia itself. The courageous voyagers overcome their own greatest temptations as they travel to mysterious islands, have fateful confrontations with magical creatures and sinister enemies and reunite with their friend and protector, the “Great Lion” Aslan.
The Zoo’s lion cubs will make their public debut later this month, depending on the weather. The cubs are part of a lion pride that includes the two mothers, Nababiep and Shera (who are also sisters), and the father, Luke. Lions are considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as the result of climate change, hunting and habitat loss.