Now Open to Name Two of the National Zoo's Lion Cubs

Animal keepers at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo have selected six finalists from the Name the Lion: Cub Cam Contest, and voting on the finalists has begun. Through this contest, U.S. residents had a chance to suggest a name for two of the Zoo’s seven lion cubs by submitting a video no longer than 90 seconds that provided a name and the rationale for choosing the name. Now it is everyone’s chance to vote on the final names. Voting ends at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 15. The names presented in the winning videos will officially become the cubs’ names for as long as they live at the National Zoo.

The name choices are (click on each name to see the video):


  • Baruti: (ba-ROO-tee), meaning “teacher”
  • Tebogo: (tee-BO-go), meaning “we are thankful”   
  • Metiaki: (met-ee-AH-kee), meaning “courageous”


  • Maji: (MA-gee), meaning “water”
  • Lelie: (la-LEE-ay), meaning “lily”
  • Nasera: (nah-SAIR-ah), meaning “leader”

After months in their indoor den with their mothers Nababiep and Shera, the Zoo’s seven curious cubs belonging to two litters have been introduced to their father, Luke, passed their swim tests and are gearing up for their public debut later this month.

All seven cubs are currently identified by small shaved areas on different parts of their bodies. They are similar in size and coloring, but their personalities are quite distinct. The two cubs that everyone can vote on are currently called “Base of Tail” and “Left Hip.” “Base of Tail,” one of Nababiep’s male cubs, has a curious, quiet and calm disposition, according to keepers. By contrast, “Left Hip,” one of Shera’s female cubs, is feisty and fiercely independent. One cub was named Aslan this week by the stars of the Chronicles of Narnia movie series, Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes. The other cubs will be named by keepers and Zoo supporters.