Josh came out to visit me a few weeks ago for my birthday. He wanted to just have a relaxing weekend and go out to dinner at our favorite restaurant but I thought I’d check to see if there was anything interesting going on in Little Rock that we might like to do. There was a food truck festival which I thought sounded really silly but neither of us had much interest in it so we did not go. I also found out that the zoo was going to be having a birthday party for their male lion Bakari. Some of these pictures are pretty dark. The day was gloomy and overcast and we ended up getting trapped in the reptile house when it started to pour.
I wasn’t sure what all that would entail, but I knew Josh would love it because he loves animals. And true to form, when I told him about it he insisted we go. On the zoo webpage they suggested bringing a gift. The things they suggested included zoo toys which you’d have to purchase from a website, beef roasts, catnip and perfume. Since we decided to go to this the day before the party the toys were out. And if I am going to pay for a roast I’m going to be the one eating it! So I decided to stop by the pet store and get the biggest bottle of catnip I could find. I also knew I had an unopened bottle of perfume that had been kicking around for a couple of years (I got it as part of a set but I already have an open bottle. I also like never wear perfume so it lasts for a long time.)
The animal trainer was super excited for our gifts. She said that they like to expose the lions to a variety of smells which is where the perfume comes in. They will spray a box with the scent so that the lions have something new and different to sniff when they are playing.
We got there 10 or 15 minutes before the lions were going to be released into the habitat. There was a pretty good sized crowd of people that were waiting with us, including a couple who had gone to Penn State (small world!)
There were two big boxes in the habitat that were meant as “gifts” for Bakari. The boxes contained some of the lions’ toys and it appears that all love to play with cardboard boxes. (Though I guess most animals will play with a cardboard box, including human children…)
There are three lions at the Little Rock zoo. Sydney and Nyla are older females. They were rescued when they escaped a private residence in St. Louis. I always find it surprising that people think they can keep wild animals like lions as pets. Bakari is a 6 year old male lion. The zoo knows his pedigree and they are hoping to breed him in the future. All three lions were released into the enclosure at the same time and it took a while for Bakari to “open” his presents. Sydney and Nyla did not wait for him.
The lions looked so cute playing with the boxes. They looked just like Pepper! Eventually the birthday boy himself got into the action.
I was able to get a picture of all three lions.
This was a great way to start my birthday. I really like that the zoo has these kinds of programs because they help people connect to the animals. Plus the presence of the zoo keeper was great because she was able to tell us more information about the lions than you get from reading the signs that are posted by their enclosures.
I am now going to post these pictures as a gallery for Josh. (He wanted them posted as a gallery but he was over ruled by me…) The pictures are the same as those posed above though you can flip through them all at once if you’d like to look at them in their full size.