Four lion cubs had a roaring good time when they celebrated their first birthday at Werribee Open Range Zoo last Wednesday.
The cubs – Ndidi, Aziza, Zuberi and Kibibi – were presented with a lion-friendly birthday cake and pinatas to play with.
The foursome, two males and two females, are the second lion litter to be born at the zoo, and the first for their mother Nairibi and father Johari.
Zookeeper Katherine Quinn said that as the cubs were older, they had taken on the role of mentoring their four-month-old half brothers and sisters, Asali, Ilola, Ato and Lwazi.
“It’s quite incredible to see how much they’ve grown and developed during the last 12 months,” Ms Quinn said.
She said the one-year-old cubs weighed between 60 and 80 kilograms.
“It’s been so special to be able to care for these cubs and for the rest of the pride as they grow and develop,” Ms Quinn said.
“Aziza is incredibly cuddly and she loves to snuggle with dad Johari, while Ndidi takes after his mum and is quite impatient, particularly when it comes to food.
“Zuberi is the sweetheart of the group and he has a really gentle nature and Kibibi is the thinker … she adores the younger cubs.”
Ms Quinn said that there were estimated to be only about 20,000 wild lions in the world, with their population under threat due to habitat loss.
Zoos Victoria’s Beads for Wildlife program helps to support the protection of the rangelands in northern Kenya, where lions still roam free.
See zoo.org.au for details.