That is why Hubs and I spent at least 30 minutes watching the lions. In the fenced area there were a pair of lions - one male and one female - they were mates. We happened to stumble upon this exhibit while the keeper was standing between us and the fence, answering questions and talking about the lions. We also happened to come to this exhibit right after they gave both lions beef bones to gnaw on.
This was super cool because they gnawed on these bones no more than 10 feet from us. We watched and listened for a while and then this big guy went to sit on the ground, even closer to the fence.
As he chewed, we could hear his rough tongue lick against the bone. We could hear the power behind his jaws as he chomped down on the bone. The keeper said they would work on these bones for a couple of hours before being done.
Meanwhile, the lioness (I don't have any pictures of her, but she was beautiful) got bored with her bone. She stood up and walked down by the big guy who is very protective of his bone. He semi-roared, or growled at her as she passed by.
That is one amazing sound, by the way. The keeper says that he does roar on occasion and it can be heard for miles. It makes your chest thunder and I can only imagine because this noise he made was no small thing. It was deep and guttural. It was majestic.
While the female went off to steal this guy's favorite toy - an empty plastic barrell - he took the chance to clean up her bone leftovers. Once he saw that she had his barrel, however, he trotted over, picked up the barrel in his mouth, and hid it behind a rock. He then went back to his own bone.
But, the lion keeper had gotten too close to his bone. He made some of those noises at her - warning her to stay away. She didn't move in an effort to let him know she was going to stay away. But, he wanted to make sure. So, he pounced at the fence! This fence, by the way, is not firm, but flexible. The fence gave out so that this giant lion was about 1 foot from his keeper. One time wasn't enough, though. He pounced again, growling the entire time. She slowly moved away, completely calm and collected, and he settled down again with his bone.
Have you ever seen action like that at a zoo? Have you ever been this close to the animals? It was amazing. I am always wanting to pet the lions and the bears, but this gave me a healthy respect for the "king of the jungle."
By the way, have you also ever seen a lion as well-groomed as he? They do not groom their animals, but I think this is the healthiest, best-maintained lion I have seen. He looks like Mufasa from The Lion King, don't ya think? He should. They drew all the characters from The Lion King from the San Diego Zoo.
If you ever visit this zoo, be sure to stop by the lion pen. It is an amazing sight to see!