Bringing Out the Inner Cub
February 22 2016

On the 20th of February, Kela was found lounging in the sea of green with the rest of the pride.  She looked like she was dozing on and off, just like most of the lions in the shade.  Suddenly, her ears popped forward as she found something that seemed to interest her!  She shot her paw out, flexing her claws and watching the object to see if it would move at her command.  She then dragged the object closer to herself and started to chew it.  Kela pushed back on the object and flicked her tail as if she was surprised about something, but then continued to nudge the object with her nose and ears forward.  To the research team’s surprise, she grabbed the object with both paws and rolled on her side.  She rolled back and forth hugging the object and kicking it with her back paws.  Kela was embracing her inner cub and continued to chew the object and roll around looking like one of the cubs enjoying a new found toy, which turned out to be a simple stick.  But it wasn’t long until one of the sub-adults noticed her unusual behavior.

LE3 was awoken by Kela’s romping around in the grass next to him and saw her having a blast with this novelty toy.  Of course, still being young and curious, he became extremely interested in what she was up to.  He started to inch forward while Kela watched the youngster.  He playfully nudged the stick with his nose that was still clutched in Kela’s paws.  She didn’t look impressed and placed a paw on his face, holding him down.  He took advantage of this and rolled over, which sneakily released the stick from Kela’s paws.  They pawed each other for a few moments and soon enough Kela surrendered her toy to her little playmate, returning to the adult lion she is.  LE3 was now occupied with the stick, and Kela seemed content to resume dozing.

About the Dambwa Lion Release Site

The 6 adults (1 male and 5 females) of the ‘Dambwa Pride’ were captive born and released into the ‘Dambwa Lion Release Site’ in 2011, having been walked in the rehabilitation phase of the ex situ conservation project, the African Rehabilitation and Release into the Wild Programme.  The pride’s 6 offspring (3 male and 3 females) were born in the site and have had no human contact, display natural behaviours, and are intended for release into the wild in the final phase of the Programme.

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