Lion cubs outgrowing playpen at SD Zoo

SAN DIEGO - Two young African lions cubs at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park are growing and starting to eat soft kitten food, animal care staff said Wednesday.

The cubs, 6 1/2 weeks old, are beginning to outgrow their nursery playpen and are showing their first baby teeth. The male named Ken and female named Dixie weigh 12 and 9 pounds, respectively.

The cubs currently reside in the Safari Park's animal care center. Animal keepers said they bottle-feed them every 3 1/2 hours and have introduced them to soft kitten food with pieces of meat.

As the cubs continue to grow, keepers will decrease their feeding times and eventually wean them from the bottle -- around 12 weeks of age.

Park officials said that although eating and sleeping remain the precocious felines' favorite pastimes, they are becoming more agile, playing with toys, pouncing and climbing in their playpen, and spending time in the sun each day.

Visitors to the Safari Park can see the cubs in the animal care center from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily but should be aware, like adult lions, the cubs average about 20 hours of sleep per day.

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