Lion Cubs: A Birthday Retrospective

The National Zoo's cubs celebrate with bloodsicles (ew) while we look back fondly on a year of cuteness.

28 photos
1/28
Smithsonian Institution
Remember when they were still this tiny? Now the National Zoo's cubs celebrate their birthdays with bloodsicles (ew) while we look back fondly on a year of cuteness.
2/28
John Hancock
The cubs were born in two litters, four on Aug. 31, 2010 to lion mom Shera, and three more on Sept. 22, 2010 to Shera's sister, Nababiep. All seven cubs have the same father, Luke.
3/28
Bloomberg via Getty Images
During the second litter's first checkup, vets checked the cubs' mouths and eyes, listened to their hearts and lungs, and felt their bellies. The babies are still too young for shots. (Smart move, babies!)
4/28
News4 I-Team
You can see pics from their older sibs' first vet visit here, or watch the cub cam <a href="http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/GreatCats/default.cfm?cam=LC1#cam" target=blankhere.
5/28
Smithsonian Institution
The cubs weren't allowed out for the first few months. First they had to pass a swim test, since their stately residence is surrounded by a moat.
6/28
Smithsonian Institution
Wheee!
7/28
Smithsonian Institution
You cannot get these in the zoo's gift shop. Trust us, we tried.
8/28
Smithsonian Institution
9/28
Smithsonian Institution
10/28
Smithsonian Institution
All the cubs passed their swim tests with flying colors (and maximum cuteness).
11/28
Smithsonian Institution
12/28
Smithsonian Institution
13/28
Smithsonian Institution
14/28
Smithsonian Institution
15/28
Paul Parmalee/WHYY
16/28
Getty Images
The first lion cub to be named is now called Aslan, after the lion in "The Chronicles of Narnia." Actors Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes from the movie series visited the zoo for the naming ceremony.
17/28
Getty Images
That cub isn't looking so tiny anymore!
18/28
Smithsonian Institution
19/28
Smithsonian Institution
Shera's four cubs were born in August, and Shera's sister Nababiep had three more cubs in September. All seven cubs share one dad, Luke. There will be a test on this information later.
20/28
Smithsonian Institution
21/28
Smithsonian Institution
22/28
Smithsonian Institution
23/28
Smithsonian Institution
24/28
Smithsonian Institution
The cubs were introduced to their dad Dec. 29, 2010. He... tolerated it well.
25/28
OK, actually when the army of cubs first arrived in the yard, Luke turned and headed up to the highest tier in the yard. Maybe he was a bit scared of the responsibility.
26/28
Smithsonian's National Zoo
The seven cubs are the result of the zoo's "build a pride" program, which began when Luke, Naba and Shera arrived in October 2006.
27/28
Smithsonian's National Zoo
28/28
Aslan led the pack in terms of getting a name, but the others soon followed: John, Fahari, Zuri, Lelie, Baruti and Lusaka. As we said, there WILL be a test on this later. Best of luck.
Contact Us