LoBello said he and his staff are grateful to receive the Oklahoma City lions. Many Oklahomans came to the El Paso Zoo last month because of the Sun Bowl, when the Oklahoma Sooners defeated Stanford. He hopes more Oklahomans will visit to see the lions again.
Excitement is building in El Paso, said Renee Neuert, executive director of the El Paso Zoological Society. Zoo memberships are up, and officials predict an increase in attendance this year.
"We’re all excited,” she said. "This is really wonderful for our community and our citizens.”
The four lion cubs were born under an unusual set of circumstances in November 2007. The male lion, Aslan, was brought to the Oklahoma City Zoo to breed with females Tia and Bridget.
Aslan showed little interested in breeding, and zookeepers eventually discovered a shard of bone stuck in his teeth, like a piece of popcorn kernel. A dentist removed the shard, and Aslan mated with both females the next day.
Both females were pregnant at the same time, each delivering a pair of cubs only two days apart. Oddly enough, both lionesses had difficult deliveries, and both required emergency cesarean sections.
Zoo staff had to hand-raise the cubs. They bottle fed the four until the lions were too large for keepers to be safe.