As zoo reopens, lion cubs enjoy some winter sports

Neka's cubs spend the morning romping in their snow-filled habitat

The Oregon Zoo opened to visitors for the first time in four days this morning, and those who sloshed their way through the gates early got a rare treat: the chance to see three 5-month-old lion cubs romping in the snow. Like many youngsters in the region, Neka's cubs couldn't wait to get out and play in the white stuff.

"When we opened the door this morning, they just bolted out," said Laura Weiner, senior keeper for the zoo's Africa section. "They've been going nonstop — running, chasing each other, rolling in the snow, pouncing on each other, swatting at the adult lions, Neka and Kya. They have access to their indoor space too, but they refuse to stop moving, so they're not getting cold."

Weiner, who's been following the Sochi games, said Neka's 5-month-old cubs may have come up with a new winter sport: "snow wrestling."

They've also been developing their balance and strength, Weiner said, by hopping onto the large boulders in their habitat, which are modeled after African kopjes (natural rock formations commonly found on the Serengeti plains).

The Oregon Zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, Western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects include studies on black rhinos, Asian elephants, polar bears and bats.
 
The zoo relies in part on community support through donations to the Oregon Zoo Foundation to undertake these and many other animal welfare, education and sustainability programs. The zoo is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26 at exit 72. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Find fare and route information online or by calling TriMet Customer Service at 503-238-RIDE (7433).
 
General zoo admission is $10.50 (ages 12-64), $9 for seniors (65 and up), $7.50 for children (ages 3-11) and free for those 2 and younger; 25 cents of the admission price helps fund regional conservation projects through the zoo’s Future for Wildlife program. A parking fee of $4 per car is also required. Additional information is available by calling 503-226-1561.

Media contact: 

Hova Najarian | 503-220-5714 | hova.najarian@oregonzoo.org