Zookeepers hold their breath as lion cubs encounter their father for the first time
In the wild, male lions can be pretty violent towards cubs.
In fact, they will sometimes kill the cubs of competitor males if they want to be the alpha of the tribe.
Of course, that means they do protect their own cubs since they want their bloodline to continue.
The problem is that there’s a moment when a male lion first meets its cub when he has to figure out whether or not it’s his.
When lions are kept in captivity, those moments can be especially stressful for zookeepers.
A big day at the Oregon Zoo
In 2014, a 500-lb lion named Zawadi Mungu became a father to 3 female cubs.
When it came time to meet them, zookeepers kept a close watch on his reaction as did the cubs’ mother Neka, and another female Kya.
Their first meeting took place outside of public view (which is obviously for the best).
Luckily, Zawadi recognized his cubs right away, even if he needed a few minutes to get used to the idea of having 3 kids climbing all over him (who wouldn’t?)
“We were confident that Zawadi would be tolerant of his cubs right away, and we’re glad we were right because the cubs rushed him as soon as they saw him,” said lead keeper Laura Weiner.
“At first he was surprised but as time passed he grew more patient. A few days later, he was grooming them.”
Taking the family public
The first time the pride was all reunited outside, Zawadi was a little more reserved.
All the attention was getting to him as he climbed atop a boulder in the Predators of the Serengeti habitat.
The cubs were a little more cautious of dad once he towered above them, at least at first. But they’re babies, so they like to test boundaries, and it wasn’t long before they were climbing up to see if dad wanted to play.
The zoo posted a video from their first outdoor foray as the cubs swarmed dad.
One cub in particular, Zalika, is especially bold in her play.
And dad was bold in his discipline as well!
One big, happy family
There’s a lot of competition in lion prides and things don’t always look so wholesome as cubs get older.
But as cubs, Zawadi gave his kids a lot of leeway, even if he could be grouchy at times.
The video of their first meeting was incredibly popular, amassing 23 million views on the zoo’s YouTube channel!
No doubt that’s in part thanks to the cubs’ relentless need for attention and dad responding the way many an overwhelmed parent would like to.
Of course, there were plenty of funny and adorable moments as well.
Dad never got violent towards his cubs – after all, roaring is the main way lions have to communicate.
So if he needed a little extra room or wanted to instill some discipline, there was really only one option (even though it looks fairly sinister to us).
Father of the year
Despite his initial grumpiness, Zawadi became a great dad and even got named “Father of the Year” by the Oregon Zoo in 2014.
It’s clear that this big guy enjoys the company of his cubs – especially once they got a little older.
Be sure to scroll down below to see the viral video of their first outdoor get-together.
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Source : https://ronproject.com/