Tulsa Lion Cub's Birthday Party Highlights Plight Of African Lions

Wednesday, March 23rd 2011, 5:32 pm
By: News On 6

Rick Wells, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- In Africa, the lion population is shrinking. It's down by almost 90 percent over the last 50 years. But not so at the Tulsa Zoo.

Two cubs were born in 2009. One of them has been placed at a zoo in Memphis. The other celebrated a second birthday Wednesday where there were popsicles for everyone.

The birthday party was for Zuba – 2 years old and one of the first lion cubs born at the zoo in 16 years.

One of the keepers got the play yard ready with meat scraps and different scents. One of the favorites was Calvin Kline's Obsession – remember that?

A special guest at the party was 10-year-old Madeline Hayes. At a Zoo fund raiser she won the right to name a cub and selected ‘Zuba.'

"I thought that was a pretty cool name, and it means brave," Madeline said.

It's a birthday party, so there was singing and treats. There were traditional popsicles for the humans and for Zuba, a bloodsicle. Sounds awful, but Zuba was digging it.

Rick Wells: "Tell me how you make a bloodsicle."
Zoo Lion Keeper: "You take some of the blood from the meat put it in a bucket with some water and freeze it."

There is a serious point, beyond the party. Africa's lions are disappearing. The population is down from half a million to only about 20,000 now. To highlight the problem the Circle Cinema will be showing a documentary called "The Last Lions."

Zuba is one of two cubs born here in 2009. His brother is now at the Memphis Zoo. Zuba will be heading to a new home soon as well.

Madeline and her little sister Makenzie will miss him; they kind of like lions.

"I think they're really cool," Madeline Hayes said.

The National Geographic Documentary "The Last Lions" will open at the Circle Cinema on Friday.

Zoo Lion Keepers and staff will be on hand this weekend to answer questions.