Lion Cubs at Busch Gardens

Lion cubs at Busch Gardens

These lion cub sisters were born on March 20 at Busch Gardens. Photo by Busch Gardens.

Busch Gardens welcomed three little lions recently. Two female cubs were born on March 20, and an unrelated male cub was born on February 20. All the cubs have genetic lines from the Kalahari and Kruger regions of South Africa, where lions are recognized for their large size and impressive manes on the males.

More information and updates about the progress of the new cubs will be posted on  BuschGardensTampaBlog.com. You can help name the lion cub sisters at the Busch Gardens Tampa Facebook page.

In the wild, lions once inhabited most of Africa and parts of Asia and Europe. Now around 20,000-30,000 of these big cats live in sub-Saharan Africa, mostly in protected reserves. The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund supports several projects in Africa, which work to protect and preserve the species.

To learn more about lions, visit our lion facts page.

Lion cubs at Busch Gardens Lion cubs at Busch Gardens

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UPDATE: The winning names for the three-month-old cubs are Shaba, meaning “brazen”, and Shtuko, meaning “twitch”.

Help Big Cats While Trick-or-Treating

Leopard grooms cub

A mother leopard grooms her cub. You can help big cats like these with "Trick-or-Treat for Big Cats".

This Halloween, you can make the holiday extra special by helping big cats! National Geographic has organized a campaign called Trick-or-Treat for Big Cats, which encourages kids to collect donations for National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative as they trick-or-treat.

According to Alexander Moen, VP of Explorer Programs at the National Geographic Society, “The Big Cats Initiative is working with scientists and conservationists around the world to halt the decline of these iconic animals. By supporting their work, together we can ensure that future generations won’t talk about big cats the way we now talk about dinosaurs.”

Free Trick-or-Treat for Big Cats collection boxes are available at Pottery Barn Kids stores nationwide, participating schools, National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., and at causeanuproar.org, where people can request boxes sent directly to homes, schools, clubs and other community locations.

Everyone who participates is eligible to receive a thank-you gift, including magazine subscriptions, apparel and digital downloads (eligibility based on the amount of funds submitted by November 30, 2011). Detailed information on gifts and how to participate can be found at www.causeanuproar.org.

Lion Cubs at the National Zoo

The National Zoo in Washington D.C. is host to seven lion cubs!  The first four lion cubs were born to lioness Shera on August 31 while the second three cubs were born to Shera’s sister Naba on September 22.  The cubs made their public debut at the zoo late last week and can now be seen outside everyday around 12:30 pm for about an hour, weather permitting.

Lion cubs at the National Zoo

Lioness and cubs at National Zoo

Lion cub at National Zoo
Photos by Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian’s National Zoo
(See more photos at the Smithsonian’s Flickr page.)

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the lion cubs from when they were first born to their public debut in the video below:

You can also catch live footage of the lion cubs using the National Zoo’s Lion Cub Cam. (If you don’t want to sign up for their e-newsletter, click the red X on the top right of the video box. You may also need to install a plugin depending on what browser you’re using.)

Big Cat Week on Nat Geo WILD

Monday, December 6 kicks off Big Cat Week on the Nat Geo WILD channel — seven nights of programs dedicated to the world’s fiercest felines.  The event is an extension of the Big Cats Initiative, a long-term commitment by the National Geographic Society and Nat Geo WILD to stop poaching, save habitat, and raise the call that big steps are needed to save big cats around the world.

lion eyes

Photo by Beverly Joubert

Don’t miss the premieres of these films:

Big Cat Odyssey: Monday, December 6, at 9pm ET/PT
Award-winning filmmakers and National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert set out 30 years ago on a quest to get close to big cats. Big Cat Odyssey chronicles their meticulous work over three decades of filming, photographing and documenting the behavior of big cat species in Botswana.

Two lion cubs

Photo by Beverly Joubert

The video below depicts the attack of a buffalo by a whole pride of lions.

Leopard Queen: Tuesday, December 7, at 9pm ET/PT
Filmmaker John Varty, who filmed a wild female leopard for 17 years, opens an extraordinary window into the lives of Africa’s most secretive big cat.  Leopard Queen follows the life of “Manana,” a wild leopard whose territory spans the heart of the Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa.

Leopard in tree

Photo by Susanne Baden

In the video below, watch Manana as a cub, exploring the world around her and learning essential survival skills.

Lion Warriors: Wednesday, December 8, at 9pm ET/PT
In the Great Plains below Mt. Kilimanjaro in Kenya, Maasai warriors have a centuries-old tradition of killing the lions that kill their cattle. But now only about 2000 lions are left in the country (and the number is dropping), so Maasai elders and chiefs have forbidden the warriors to kill them. Wildlife filmmaker Kire Godal, with the support of executive producers Dereck and Beverly Joubert, captures firsthand the struggle of these modern-day warriors, who are reinventing their traditions to help save the lions they once prided themselves on killing.

Lionness

Photo by Richard Jones

The video below shows the initiation of two Maasai teens where they will officially become warriors and men.

Lions on the Edge: Thursday, December 9, at 9PM ET/PT
Ruaha National Park in Tanzania used to be a true paradise for wildlife gathered around the rich Ruaha riverbanks. Now, the worst drought in decades is pushing all the animals on a march to find water. The animals follow the dry riverbed upstream for water, while circling prides of lions position themselves close by, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Watch the hunting strategies of the lion pride as they attack a herd of zebras in the video below.

Also featured during Big Cat Week are two specials that take place in Botswana’s Okavango Delta: Eye of the Leopard, which captures the life of a female leopard, from cub to feared predator, and Relentless Enemies, which focuses on the fight for survival of highly specialized lions that prey almost exclusively on buffalo.

Lion Ranger on Nat Geo Wild

Lion ranger Kevin Richardson

Kevin Richardson in the Kingdom of the White Lion reserve, Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo Credit: © Renegade Pictures)

Kevin Richardson, a self-taught animal behaviorist, introduces you life on a lion compound in Lion Ranger, premiering tonight September 6, 2010 at 9pm ET/PT on Nat Geo Wild.  In the first episode, we meet Kaiser’s Pride, the biggest pride in the Kingdom of the Great White Lion and home to three rare white lions.

In the video below, Kevin receives three new young lions and welcomes them into the compound. Will the rest of the lions be as accepting?

Watch a video of the new lions meeting a special member of Bandit’s pride:

In this video, a lion cub is found dead in the enclosure. What was the cause of such a violent death?

Rare Atlas Lion Born

A new lion cub is born at Space Farms Zoo in Sussex

Space Farms Zoo and Museum in Sussex, New Jersey is the home of the newest member of a rare species of lion. The cub, Siren, was born 10 weeks ago. He is the fifth generation of Atlas lion to live at the zoo.

Atlas lions, known for the black manes on the males, are extinct in the wild. There are fewer than 100 in zoos worldwide.

To read more about Siren visit NJ.com.

Visit the Space Farms Zoo.

Exhibit Review: Crittercam

Crittercam

Last week, we wrote about Crittercam, an exhibit presented by the Museum of Science, Boston and National Geographic.  Yesterday, we had the opportunity to visit the exhibit in person.

Crittercam provides a fascinating look into the behavior of several kinds of animals including penguins, seals, sea turtles, sharks, lions, bears, and more.  Using cameras attached to various animals, scientists were able to gather data about hunting techniques, social norms, and daily activity that had previously eluded them.  The exhibit provides video footage captured by the animals along with explanatory text and a few fun facts about the animals discussed.

Lioness wearing CrittercamBut the exhibit also delves into the technology and methodology of Crittercam.  There are models of animals showing how the special cameras were attached and adapted to a particular animal’s lifestyle.

For example, the soft, flexible shells of leatherback sea turtles did not allow the camera to be attached by an adhesive. Instead, a suction cup was applied to the central plate of the turtle’s shell.

Using videos, photos, life-size models, and computer kiosks, the exhibit appeals to an audience of all ages and interests. So if you live in or plan to visit the Boston area, be sure to visit Crittercam at the Museum of Science, which runs through August 30.

For more info: Crittercam.

News of the Harry Potter Exhibition arrives via owl***

During our visit, the museum made an exciting announcement (delivered by an owl) about a very special international exhibition that will open in Boston on October 25, 2009 called Harry Potter: The Exhibition.

Fans of Harry Potter will soon get the chance to immerse themselves in the wizarding world.  Artifacts and costumes from the latest Harry Potter films will be displayed in a 10,000-sq. ft. space.

For more info, see: Harry Potter: The Exhibition.