Seven African lion cubs at West Midland Safari Park have had a busy month, exploring their new home and meeting their father for the first time.
The two sets of cubs, now at around five months old, recently had their first day out on the safari, in preparation for meeting the guests for the first time on 15 February.
Although a bit hesitant at first, within no time, they were chasing each other around, playing with anything they could get their paws on and attempting to climb ‘lion rock’, the large, sculpted vantage point in the centre of their habitat.
Once used to their new surroundings, keepers introduced the youngsters to the rest of the pride, including dad, five-year-old Tsavo and his brothers, uncles Jilani and Jengo.
Head Keeper of Carnivores, Chris Hodgkins, said, “When we introduced the cubs to the rest of the pride, they were very inquisitive and not scared at all. If anything, the adults were more wary of the cubs, purely because they didn’t want to get a ‘telling off’ from the mothers, Amber and Scar, for getting too close! The youngsters are proving to be very mischievous and playful, plus they have so much confidence. We’ve watched them chase some of the adults around the safari, pounce on them whilst they’re sleeping, and tug their tails, so they are proving to be a bit of a handful!”
He continued, “First, introductions were made to the adults who have encountered cubs before, followed by the rest of the pride and finally to the three big males. The cubs showed no fear at all and ran straight over to Tsavo and his brothers where they were soon seen biting their ears and tails and tugging on their manes. The boys withstand this behaviour for a while, but when they’ve had enough, they let them know with a growl or a forceful pat on the head!”
Now the cubs have been introduced to the rest of the pride, they stay together as a group overnight and keepers often find the cubs snuggled up to a different ‘auntie’ or ‘uncle’ in the mornings.
The next steps for the cubs are to get them used to a few extra vehicles in the safari, ready for their debut with the public this half term and to celebrate, the Park will be hosting a few extra lion-themed activities.
Guests will be able to have a go on the Park’s new ‘Roar-o-Meter’, where they can see if they can roar as loud as a lion. Those who post their attempts on the Park’s Facebook page, will be in with the chance of winning a Family Annual Pass to the Safari Park.
Additionally, guests will be able to learn some fun facts about lions and see which members of the pride they have spotted out on the safari, by studying a new ID chart. The seven cubs, named Hunter, Hercules, Hernatty, Harabi, Hodge, Havoc and Hira, bring the total number of African lions at the Safari Park to 18.
West Midland Safari Park opens daily for the summer season from 15 February. Admission prices are £24.00 for adults, £20.00 for children aged 3-15 years and £22.00 for concessions. Children under the age of three are free. Admission includes a summer Free Return Ticket and discounts of up to 35% are available when booking in advance online. Rides for the adventure Theme Park are charged extra.
Further information and a range of VIP experiences, including a tour of the lion house to see the cubs up close and personal, are available from the Park’s website www.wmsp.co.uk or by telephone 01299 402114. Find out more on the Safari Park’s official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/WestMidSafari.