Lion Cubs Celebrate With Bloodsicles

The National Zoo’s seven lion cubs had a birthday bash on Friday, Sept. 16.

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The National Zoo’s seven lion cubs had a birthday bash on Friday, Sept. 16 -- even though, with two batches of birthdays, neither was actually Sept. 16. Gotta compromise!
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We'd heard awhile back that they'd celebrate with bloodsicles -- even so, this sight was WAY more disturbing and gross than we'd anticipated.
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Cubs with presents are way cuter -- see?
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Four cubs were born Aug. 31, 2010: John, Lelie, Fahari and Zuri, to mom Shera.nAnother three were born Sept. 22, 2010: Baruti, Aslan and Lusaka, to mom Nababiep (Shera's sister). Got that?
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Keepers created seven gift boxes, one for each cub, gift-wrapped with approved paper products and held together with a “paste” made of flour and water.
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Inside each box was an individual-sized frozen treat made of ice, shaved beef and a piece of oxtail. Mmm, oxtail!
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The bloodcicle cake weighed about 50 pounds, and was composed of ice, two whole cow femurs cut in half, five pounds of shaved beef, and a half-gallon of cow blood. Sorry that you now know this.
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Says the zoo: "The... cubs are genetically valuable in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for African lions. An SSP matches individual animals across the country for breeding in order to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse and self-sustaining population."
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These are the first surviving cubs born at the zoo in 22 years -- we get the need to celebrate!
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The cubs' parents -- moms Naba and Shera, and dad to all seven, Luke -- came to the National Zoo in 2006 from South Africa "specifically for the purpose of breeding and introducing new genes into the existing U.S. captive population," says the zoo.
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