One Year Old

August 13, 2014

On August 16, 2014, our four lion cubs turned one year old. We spoke with their keeper, Ralph Aversa, to find out what their first year was like.

It’s hard to believe, but on August 16 our lion cubs turned a year old! To celebrate, we sat down with the man that knows them best: their keeper, Ralph Aversa.

Ralph has been at the zoo for over 20 years and has worked with the lions since 2010. Last summer, he had the exciting chance to name the four cubs — the biggest litter born at the zoo to date! For each one, Ralph chose an African Swahili word.

Amara: A princess-like name seemed right for the only female of the group.

Bahati: After noticing this cub’s unique features, Ralph chose to call him “special one.”

Ime: The third cub, Ime, or “patient one,” stands out as the calmest member of the quartet.

Thulani: This guy is particularly noisy, so Ralph named him Thulani, aptly translated as “be quiet.”

In the months that followed their birth, the cubs' personalities continued to shine through. Amara has proven herself to be the most courageous of the group, boldly taking the lead ahead of her brothers. Thulani continues to be the momma’s boy.

What’s to come in the year ahead? Most noticeably, the three brothers will start to grow manes (although they’ll look a bit like mohawks at first). “As they've grown,” Ralph says, “the cubs have already calmed down and are maturing. But they still enjoy playing together on exhibit.”