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New lion makes himself at home at Oklahoma City Zoo

Hubert, the Oklahoma City Zoo's newest lion, has been seen out in the yard to get acclimated to his new surroundings.
by Matt Patterson Modified: March 25, 2013 at 8:19 pm •  Published: March 26, 2013

The Oklahoma City Zoo's newest lion is the animal equivalent of an awkward teenager with a bad haircut, but he's fitting in just fine.

Hubert, a 19-month-old African lion, came to Oklahoma City by way of the Milwaukee Zoo, where he was born.

He doesn't sit at the top of the hill at the lion enclosure and roar, as longtime zoo favorite Aslan did when he was alive, but every day Hubert feels a little more at home.

Hubert arrived in early November.

He was quarantined for a month, something the zoo does with most of its animals. He is gradually being introduced to the yard and to Tia and Bridgette, the zoo's 12-year-old female lions.

“He's pretty well-behaved for a large cat,” carnivore supervisor Jeff Rife said. “We're letting him tell us what we can do with him next. He's actually been very good to work with. He's progressed quickly compared to some of the other cats we've had.”

Hubert eats about 6 pounds of meat a day, and at times he's fed frozen rabbits to mimic what he would see in the wild.

The bones also help clean his teeth.

Hubert weighs about 300 pounds, but could be as large as 450 pounds when fully grown.

Hubert hasn't been face-to-face with Bridgette and Tia, but that day is coming. They can already see each other from their indoor enclosure. Hubert has done well with his training.

“He can come back to us when we call him,” Rife said. “That's useful when we want him to come in when we want to let the girls out into the yard. He knows how to move from cage to cage when we clean. He's a pretty fast learner.”

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by Matt Patterson
Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun....
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For more information about the Oklahoma City Zoo, 2101 NE 50, call 424-3344 or go to


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