Five Months and Fierce

Emery the lion cub is now five months old! Emery continues to go out on the main exhibit with parents Zola and Mramba, depending on the weather. He is eating up to 2 pounds of meat per day – in addition to nursing from his mom, and he’s getting so big!

Since Emery is almost large enough where it isn’t safe to go in with him anymore, the Africa Keepers have started to work with him in a protected contact setting just like they do with the adult lions. Africa Keepers have started training with Emery using positive reinforcement. They began training Emery to touch his nose to a target, which he will learn to follow so that Keepers can ask him to move in different directions. Other behaviors he will be learning include “down,” “sit,” and “side” – all of which can be used to eventually train him to accept a voluntary injection in his shoulder to receive vaccines or other medications. These behaviors can also be used to eventually train him to allow a voluntary blood draw from his tail.

Training Emery to voluntarily participate in his own veterinary care will help ensure that Zoo staff can give him the best possible care as he continues to grow. Because of the importance of this training (and because mom Zola is still very protective of Emery!), Lion Behind-the-Scenes Tours are temporarily unavailable so that staff and Emery can focus on learning these important behaviors. We will keep you posted on his progress!