National Zoo lion cubs pass first swim test

National Zoo lion cub
National Zoo lion cub

WASHINGTON DC (WJLA/CNN) — The National Zoo’s four African lion cubs will soon be on display after passing one serious test.

The all-important swim reliability test to see if these two month old lion cubs can not only swim at this point but also navigate toward shore and climb their furry paws from the moat to dry land.

“To be able to figure out which way safety is… head above water,” curator Craig Saffoe said.

The first boy wanted out pretty quickly, then the girl may have stayed in the longest. The other two boys did swim a good distance, along the wall. All four succeeded, and even some neighbors came out to see what all the commotion was about.

“They’re coming out into the environment for the first time so they’re being hit by all 5 senses,” curator Craig Saffoe said.

Animal care staff here at the National Zoo placed 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. And perhaps more importantly for visitors, ready to be seen by the public.

“The gloves that I was wearing were puncture resistant gloves and so that protects me when I’m getting up cub out of the water that if they turn around and bite me they can’t actually break through,” animal keeper Kristen Clark said. “Passing to us means that they all kept their heads above water, even the ones that submerged completely when they were put into the water, pulled their heads out of the water.”

The four cubs were born March 2, to 9 year old mother Shera. 3 males and a female. They don’t have names yet, only identified by their shave marks.

The two lion cubs, born Jan. 24, successfully passed their swim test back in April. Keepers are confident that they are ready for introduction to Yard 3. Their public debut is set for Friday.

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