National Zoo lion cubs pass swim test

(Photo: National Zoo)

(WJLA) - It’s the all-important swim reliability test to see if these four two-month-old lion cubs can swim and navigate toward shore, climbing their furry paws from the moat to dry land.

"To be able to figure out which way safety is," says curator Craig Saffoe of the test.

The first male cub wanted out pretty quickly, and the female cub may have stayed in the longest. The other two males did swim a good distance along the wall, and in the end, all four succeeded. Some neighbors even came out to see what all the commotion was about.
"A pass is when we can see that they can navigate, grab the wall," explains Saffoe.

Animal care staff here at the National Zoo placed the cubs in the water and help guide them towards land. By passing the test, the cubs will prove to the animal keepers that they are ready to safely explore their outdoor habitat – and perhaps more importantly for visitors, that they are ready to be seen by the public.

The four cubs were born March 2 to nine-year-old mother Shera. They don't have names yet, and for now, are only identified by their shave marks.

Two lion cubs born January 24 successfully passed their swim test in April, and keepers are confident that they are ready for introduction to Yard 3.

Their public debut is set for Friday.