Little lion cubs pounce on their patient pop after first meeting - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Little lion cubs pounce on their patient pop after first meeting

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Photo: Oregon Zoo Photo: Oregon Zoo
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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Oregon Zoo lion Zawadi is a 500-pound mega-carnivore capable of pulling a buffalo to the ground, but around his kids, he's a big softie.

The zoo's little lion cubs ventured outside with their dad for the first time last week, and Zawadi showed plenty of patience as the youngsters pounced on him and bit his mane.

The cubs were first introduced to their dad in their indoor den a few days prior.

Zoo keepers said they were confident Zawadi would be tolerant of his cubs right away. That turned out to be true, even as the little lions rushed toward him as soon as they saw him.

"At first he was surprised, but as time passed he grew more patient," said Laura Weiner, senior keeper for the zoo's Africa section. "A few days later, he was grooming them."

Outside, the cubs were less bold in their initial approach, as Zawadi towered over them from the top of the Predators of the Serengeti habitat. The cubs' mother, Neka, and the pride's other female, Kya, were close by.

"Within minutes, he had five female lions swarming him," Weiner said. "I think all of that attention must have been overwhelming because he quickly jumped onto a boulder."

Photos: Oregon Zoo lion cubs with their dad
Video: Little lion cubs play with their father

The pride has continued spending time together outdoors, where they've also shared meals. The cubs, now 10 times their birth weight, rarely nurse.

Keepers say lion cub Zalika, who had a mild temperament in her infancy, is especially playful with Zawadi, jumping on him and biting his mane.

Visitors can see the lion family together on most days above 45 degrees.

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