Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo’s lion cubs are growing up, and now they are being moved into the primary lion exhibit that houses the adult male, King Louie, also known as Luke.
The two female lion cubs, Amana and Sauda, were brought here last September to create a lion pride, or family, for the male in the big enclosure, Zoo Supervisor Sara Hamlin said. The two sisters were about 6 months old and came from a small zoo in Florida.
Luke has been at the zoo for about four years, and until now the cubs have been kept in a separate enclosure that once housed the Bengal tigers.
They’ve gotten bigger and can now stand up to Luke if necessary. “It would be more evenly matched,” Hamlin said.
Now they have been moved to the lion building to begin the introduction process with Luke.
“This is an exciting and anxious time for staff,” Hamlin said. Therefore, she is asking for help from the public.
“We would ask that our guests bear with us during this process as we have to make decisions that we feel will create the most positive environment for our animals,” she said.
There is no set time for how long this process will take as it all depends on the lions’ behaviors.
While the three are in the same building, they are not in the same pen, she said. They are nose-to-nose but remain separated by a mesh.
“They can’t physically get to each other,” she said. “This way they can get to know each other in a safer setting.”
It could take as little as a week or two, or it could take up to several months, Hamlin said.
“We will have to close off the area to the public around the exhibit. In a situation like this we have no idea how the animals will react so we are planning for every possible scenario but we are hopeful that in the end we will have a happy, cohesive pride that will be ambassadors of their species.”
As far as the empty tiger exhibit, staff has plans to renovate it, Hamlin said. It is 20 years old and is in need of some repair work.
“At this point, we have no time line for when renovations will happen, just that they need to happen before new tigers can be brought in,” she said. “We appreciate our community’s patience while we work to provide our animals with the absolute best care we can.”