Zagreb Zoo’s Lion Day: Newborn Cubs Set Foot Outside for the First Time!

When parents want to scare misbehaving children near Maksimir park, they tell them the lion is going to get them. Those parents were scared like that when they were kids too. It goes all the way back to 1930 when Zagreb Zoo, situated in the park, got its first lion cub. The cub was lonely and soon found a friend in a local mutt named Frida. The pair would spend days playing outside.

This did not go well with locals passing the park, seeing a creature they’ve only heard scary stories about, roaming free next to them. They thought it is going to eat their children. That did not happen, but a cautionary tale was born.

Photo: Zagreb Zoo archives
Best friends

To the incredible pleasure of  Zagreb Zoo, the tale will be told for many years to come. On June 16th, two new African lions were born. Considering the rate of birth in captive animals, this is big news. And it could not be timed better. The Zoo is partially closed due to major reconstructions of habitats taking place, widening them and modernizing them, including the lion’s den. That means the cubs will have more room to explore once their mother lets them out.

Nyota, their mother, is very protective and no one could get near the cubs so far. Their sexes are still unknown, but experts say one is male and the other female, based on their behaviors. Once this is confirmed, citizens of Zagreb will get to name them. Heated discussions on forums have already started.

The Zoo should reopen by August 15th, and once again the timing is perfect. The cubs have taken their first steps outside of the den yesterday and could be seen playing after their dad Leo the lion made sure everything was OK.

Photo: Zagreb Zoo
Nyota and one of her cubs

The visitors will finally be able to see the newcomers, and the naming process should start then. It’s been a busy first part of the year in that department, as around dozen new animals were born in a relatively short time in the Zoo, from alpaca, Borneo amphibians and ring tailed coati (racoon) to capuchin monkey and a gibbon, first one born in Zagreb Zoo after ten years. Even more newborns are expected in the spring next year.

In celebration of the lion cubs’ outing, the Zoo has proclaimed that today (August 10th) will be a Lion Day in the Zoo (guess they didn’t want to get mixed up with the international cat day that was celebrated on August 8th).