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National Zoo's Lion Cubs to Take Swim Reliability Test and Explore Their Yard

WHAT:Four 9-week-old African lion cubs will take a swim reliability test (weather permitting) prior to their public debut in June. Following the swim test, two 14-week-old lion cubs will venture into a nearby exhibit as part of their yard introduction process. The older litter will debut to the public May 9.


WHEN:Tuesday, May 6

10 a.m. swim reliability test - 4 cubs

11 a.m. yard debut - 2 cubs

WHO: Craig Saffoe, curator of Great Cats, Smithsonian's National Zoo

Leigh Pitsko, biologist, Smithsonian's National Zoo

Kristen Clark, animal keeper, Smithsonian's National Zoo

Rebecca Stites, animal keeper, Smithsonian's National Zoo


WHERE:Great Cats Exhibit (bottom of the Zoo near Speedwell Fountain Conservation Carousel)

Yard 1 (across from Think Tank) and Yard 3 (across from Tiger Tracks)

3001 Connecticut Ave. N.W.

NOTE: Park in Parking Lot D at the bottom of the Zoo. Leave credentials on the dashboard. The swim test will begin promptly at 10 a.m. We recommend media arrive at 9:30 a.m.

Four lion cubs born March 2 at the Smithsonian's National Zoo will take a swim reliability test May 6 in Yard 1. During the test, the cubs must prove that they are capable of swimming, navigating toward shore and climbing from the moat onto dry land. Animal care staff will place the cubs into the water and help guide the cubs towards land. By passing the test, the cubs will prove to the animal keepers that they are ready to safely explore their outdoor habitat.

Two lion cubs, born Jan. 24, successfully passed their swim test in April. Keepers are confident that they are ready for introduction to Yard 3. Their public debut is May 9.

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