Escondido, California - Two 5-month-old lion cubs received some special enrichment as they came out onto their exhibit this morning at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Animal care staff placed paper bags with wood shavings and gourds around the Safari Park's lion exhibit and even sprayed some unusual scents for cubs Ken and Dixie to search for and enjoy.
The young lions eagerly ran around their habitat this morning, examining the new enrichment items by tackling the gourds and clawing at the paper bags. After spending some time exploring the enrichment items, Ken and Dixie chased each other around, playfully pouncing and wrestling until they tired themselves out.
"We love the enrichment that we get to put out," said Amy Whidden-Winter, senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. "The gourds were a great hit. Dixie loves to chase them and it brings out that predator-prey reaction in her. It rolls and she gets to pounce on it and then Ken gets to pounce on her and they get to tumble and play like good brothers and sisters should," Whidden-Winter said.
Now that the cubs are getting bigger, they have graduated from their nursery area and are spending most mornings at Lion Camp, the lion habitat at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The cubs are usually out by 9 a.m. and stay out until noon, when animal care staff rotate the cubs inside and bring the three adult lions out.
Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The important conservation and science work of these entities is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.