With the recent addition of a new and exciting enrichment item, M’bari and Etosha have had some unusually animated moments. The totem pole style tree has given keepers the ability to hang a bone on a bungee up high, giving the lions a novel challenge when getting at their treats. There’s also a hook on the big rock to hang a bone. The first day a bone was attached to the bungee on the totem, Etosha was the first lion out, and she laid claim to it, as well as the second bone attached to the rock. When M’bari came out, she gave him a tongue lashing that made it clear she meant business, and he backed off, hiding behind the rock, looking dejected. Etosha worked at the bone awhile, up on her hind feet, using all her muscles to tug the bungee and pull off the meat. Then she laid down, huffing and puffing, exhausted by the workout, but keeping an eye on her prey. An hour or so later, she came around to M’bari, gave him a kiss, and seemed to give him permission to claim one of the bones. So, he got up and enjoyed the meaty bone hung on the rock. She guarded the bungee a while longer before she gave in to her need to rest, and took a nap on her pedestal, giving M’bari the chance to jump up on the bungee for some leftovers. A few days later, M’bari had his day when another bone was on the bungee. He put his foot down (or paw) and decided the bungee bone was his. He gave Etosha a serious growling, so she kept some distance, but all the while was getting a growl in herself now and then, making faces I’d never seen before. A little drama happens even in the best of relationships, but they must have come to an understanding, since later I saw them cuddling up to one another, and there were awes from onlookers as Etosha enjoyed some gentle grooming from M’bari... peaceful and happy again.
Keywords:Big Cat, Enrichment, Lion, San Diego Zoo