Cub Scouting: What’s the Future Hold for the Zoo’s Baby Lions?

The news cycle in Philadelphia this week, like the news cycle in Philadelphia most weeks, has sucked. AC casinos are shutting down, but not before providing public fodder for horrendous national controversies. Phillies are falling like flies. Parents are suing the school district over deplorable conditions. College students, college presidents, school teachers, and police officers are dying. Temple kids are beating each other up over the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Now that the national spotlight has snatched our girl Mo’ne Davis from us, we’re in serious need of a good, meaty story (not involving weed) right now. Where do we turn in this time of depressing desperation?

Baby lions!

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Philly Zoo Holding Contest to Name New Lion Cubs

In early-July we ooh’d and aah’d at the four new lion cubs born at the Philadelphia Zoo. The little guys are the offspring of Tajiri and Makini, and the first African lion cubs to be born at the Zoo since 1996. By all accounts, the cubs are doing fine and growing like weeds, but there’s one major thing they’re missing: names.

To fill that void, the Zoo is holding a name contest for each new cub. There’s a poll set up on its website, where folks can go on and choose the names they like best. The first one, for instance, is up to be called Bantu, Mali, or Indaka. (Bantu! Bantu! Bantu!)

The winning names will be revealed when the cubs make their public debut sometime in the next few months. To vote, go here.

Four Lion Cubs Born at Philadelphia Zoo

On June 26th, four new African lion cubs were born to two first-time parents at the Philadelphia Zoo—making it the first time lion cubs have been born there in 18 years. More from a press release I received this morning:

Philadelphia Zoo is pleased to announce four new members of its animal family: African lion cubs born to Tajiri, the Zoo’s 4-year-old female, during the early morning of Thursday, June 26th. This is the first litter for Tajiri and 6-year-old male Makini, and marks the expansion of the pride in First Niagara Big Cat Falls. These are the first lion cubs born at Philadelphia Zoo since 1996, continuing the Zoo’s successful breeding of big cats over the past few years.

Mother and cubs are doing well. Like newborn humans, lion cubs are essentially helpless, relying on their mother for care. Tajiri has been in almost constant physical contact with her cubs since their birth, and appears confident and relaxed as a first-time mother. Zoo staff continues to monitor them by video camera during this crucial time, giving Tajiri almost complete privacy in her off-exhibit den.

New At The Zoo: Jose Garces

Distrito Taco Truck at Lincoln Financial Field

Distrito Taco Truck at Lincoln Financial Field

The Philadelphia Zoo is rolling out some upgraded food options for this season. And in addition to adding humanely-raised meats, the remodeling of the Impala Cafe and adding new kid’s meals and signature sundaes to some of the other food-service areas, there’s one other piece of big news:

Jose Garces will now be serving at the Zoo.

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The ZooBalloon Rises Again

Oh, what’s that? It had been on the ground before, but now it soars. Like the phoenix, the Channel 6 ZooBalloon has risen from the ashes and is flying high above the Schuylkill Expressway this morning. I’m surprised there aren’t more traffic accidents as people get over to the side of the road to cry tears of joy and take photos.

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Adorable New Tigers Make Public Debut at Philadelphia Zoo

Wiz and Dmitri, a pair of Amur tiger cubs the Philadelphia Zoo acquired in January, have made their public debut at the zoo today. Um, look how cute.

The tigers — also called Siberian tigers — were born in June 2012 at the Columbus Zoo. The South Jersey Times reports on the occasion:

The twins are most active first thing in the morning and, when the big cat tunnel system is finished by the summer, they will be able to be viewed running and playing all over the area.

“Come and see them for entertainment. They are young and energetic, almost to the point of being obnoxious,” [animal keeper Anna] Ryan laughed.

The Zoo says it has no current plans to breed the tigers — um, because they’re 1 1/2 years old.

[South Jersey Times]

Zoo Acquires New Stud Gorilla, All 432 Pounds of Him


The Philadelphia Zoo recently acquired a silverback gorilla, Motuba, in a breeding deal with the Henry Doorly Zoo of Omaha, Nebraska. It was set up by the Gorilla Species Survival Plan. Why, it’s the biggest acquisition this town has made since Chip Kelly signed on as Eagles coach!

The zoo is attempting to breed Motuba, 29, with 14-year-old Kira. Frankly, this is well out of the “half your age plus seven” general rule for dating — but since gorillas are endangered, I shall let it slide.

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What Was It Like to Fly the ZooBalloon?


Bill Sands got a text when he was at work with the news. The place where he used to work closed.

Sands is a bartender — at Tinto in Rittenhouse and at Bar Ferdinand in Northern Liberties — so this is part of the job. Bars open and bars close. But Sands’ old job this time wasn’t a bar or restaurant: It was the ZooBalloon.

The 6 ABC ZooBalloon, in operation since 2002, was deflated yesterday after workers determined it had been damaged too extensively by the recent snowfalls. This was the second iteration of the balloon; it was already decided this would be the last year of the ZooBalloon.

Sands, who worked on the balloon for two seasons in the mid-2000s, reminisced about his time working there earlier today.

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