Lion cubs take swim test at National Zoo

WASHINGTON – Four African lion cubs will soon be on display at the National Zoo after passing an important test Tuesday afternoon.

One by one, each lion swam in a moat for the first time to prove they would be safe if they were left alone.

“Our main focus here is safety,” says Craig Saffoe, curator of lions and tigers. “More important than just being able to swim is the ability to pull themselves out of the water.”

The three males and one female are 10 weeks old. They will make their public debut mid-June.

“Everybody passed,” says Kristen Clark, an animal keeper. “What we’re looking for is a self-rescue out of the moat and everyone did that.”

They are among six African lion cubs currently at the National Zoo.

The two other baby lions are 15-week-old females. They already passed their swim test and will go on display Friday, May 9.

All six of the cubs have the same father. There are two mothers.

The pride will be kept together at the National Zoo for at least two years.

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