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National Zoo Launches Lion Cub-Naming Contest

For the past three months, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo has delighted animal lovers around the world with its lion cub cam, featuring the Zoo’s seven young African lion cubs. Now it is the viewers’ turn to make a video for the lions—and to help name two of the seven cubs in the process.

The Zoo and the Washington Post have partnered on the contest Name the Lion: Cub Cam Contest. Through this contest, everyone will have a chance to name two of the cubs: a female and a male.

To enter, contestants must submit a video no longer than 90 seconds that provides a name for one of the cubs and an explanation for why that is the best name. To help, the Zoo is offering a few short lion clips found on the Washington Post’s page that entrants can use as the basis for their project (though this is not required). Entries will be judged on the creativity of the video and thoughtfulness of the name. In their own video, two National Zoo lion keepers offer some helpful hints for entrants about the two lion cubs’ personalities.

Submissions are due by midnight Sunday, Dec. 5. Videos that follow the guidelines will be posted at over the next three weeks. The Zoo’s lion keepers will pick three finalists per cub for everyone to then vote on. Voting will begin Wednesday, Dec. 8, and end at noon Wednesday, Dec. 15. The names presented in the winning video(s) will officially become the cubs’ names. Winners will also receive a lion cub gift basket, may be profiled by the Washington Post and will be invited to attend the lion cubs’ public debut later this year (transportation not provided). Employees of the Smithsonian Institution, its affiliates and family members are not eligible.

Individuals, classrooms, families and other groups are welcome to submit an entry by uploading their video to The Zoo will accept only one suggestion per cub and one video per cub. Visit the National Zoo’s website for the complete guidelines and rules.

The Zoo’s first litter of four cubs was born to female African lion Shera Aug. 31. The second litter of three cubs was born to her sister, Nababiep, Sept. 22. Luke, the Zoo’s 5-year-old male lion, is father to all seven cubs. This is the first time in more than 20 years the National Zoo has had lion cubs.