Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Uniting A Lion Family?

It's hard to believe that just over five months ago we met Aramis, Aurora, Layla, and Eve at their former home in Poetry Texas.  Our goal, at that time of the rescue, was to give these animals a loving and caring home where they could they could live out their lives not having to worry about unsanitary living quarters or poor dietary conditions not befitting these magnificent lions, ever again!

Today, our goal is to assist the four lions into a lion pride, if they so desire it!  You may recall in our July 2011 Poetry In Motion -- Saving 20 Big Cats! blog posting, our four lions are actually related to another.  So far, we have been able to group all three lionesses together; now our challenge is to introduce the male lion to the "ladies." 

For the last few weeks, Aramis  spent quite a bit of quality time with Aurora and Layla without incident.  Yesterday Aramis spent about 40 minutes with Eve.  We saved Eve's meeting with Aramis last because out of all the three lionesses, Eve can be the most challenging.  Eve is a powerful cat, with fangs and claws, while Aramis was declawed and defanged years ago.  Eve is also built like a "linebacker" weighing just about 50 or so pounds less than Aramis, so we had to take extra precautions to ensure Eve did not provoke Aramis into a fight.

Needless to say, the cat watchers were tense when Aramis was released from the vet chute into Eve's living quarters; no one knew what to expect when these two powerful cats finally came face-to-face with one another.  When Eve first approached Aramis, she leaned in as if to sniff him on the nose.  When he reciprocated, Eve promptly slapped him across the face.  Aramis, surprised by this action, loudly proclaimed his displeasure with her, to which she immediately retreated away from the boy.

For the most part, the two lions paced around the quarters under the careful supervision of the lion watchers.  Thankfully, no more "slapping" incidents occurred, to the immense relief of the staff! 

In fact, the lions seemed more interested in all the people quietly watching them intently for any signs of aggression, than in each other! 

Towards the end of the 40 minute visit, the two lions eventually laid down about 4-5 feet away from each other with Aramis facing the people and Eve facing Aramis.   When the visit was over, Aramis left Eve without a backwards glance.

Take a look at how the two lions reacted to each other later in their visit:

To reinforce the positive visits between Aurora and Layla, Aramis was then moved to their quarters where he spent most of of time in the lions' den.  Concerned, Layla poked her head in the den to check on Aramis.  Noting that all was well, she waited until he came out several minutes later for a quick close-up visit with the boy.

So for the next week or so we will continue to monitor Aramis and Eve's visits, allowing them to spend more quality time together.  Hopefully, if all goes well, we will be able to unite these lions into one family pride before the end of the year.  We'll keep you updated on their progress!

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