Zoo reveals lion family with adopted cub in Florida; with VIDEO

bdupuy@MiamiHerald.comJune 6, 2014 

Kwasi takes a bite of his adopted mother, Kashifa, on Thursday at Zoo Miami.

PATRICK FARRELL / MIAMI HERALD STAFF

The nervous lioness growled at the onlookers snapping pictures of her cubs. Much like a celebrity protecting her children from the paparazzi, Kasifa was prepared to fiercely protect her babies, including her newly adopted son, Kwasi.

Zoo Miami released the mother and her five cubs into their exhibit this week for the family’s public debut.

The family is the first pride of lions to be on display at the zoo.

While Kashifa was a bit tense in front of a crowd of mostly Pineview preschoolers, her concern seemed pretty normal after what she’s lived through.

Early this year, Kashifa lost two of her three cubs when they died from health issues. Due to parental neglect, her surviving cub was sent to the Maryland Zoo in December.

Kashifa then lost her sister, Asha, to heart failure after Asha had already given birth to a son, Kwasi.

But like his name, which means warrior, Kwasi was a fighter and soon found a home with Kashifa.

When Kashifa delivered her second litter with four cubs in March, the zoo decided to introduce Kwasi into his aunt’s family.

The biggest of the bunch, Kwasi has had no problem taking on his role of older brother toward his sister, Amirah, and his three brothers, Bantu, Saba and Asani.

The rambunctious lion cub pounced around the exhibit with his siblings following his lead.

Each time the cubs went out of mom’s reach, Kashifa’s low rumbling growl would send them racing back to her.

Not all the grumblings were from Kashifa. Inside an enclosure close to hers, the male lion, Jabare, was roaring out to the pride.

The zoo, 12400 SW 152nd St., has begun working to incorporate Jabare into Kashifa’s family.

By Father’s Day, the zoo hopes to introduce the whole family together, zoo spokesman Ron Magill said.

“So far indications are great,” he said. “He has not shown any direct aggression to the cubs.”

The Pineview preschoolers were already wondering “where the daddy was.”

The children are learning about lions in school and Jossette Bolton, the lead teacher at the preschool, brought them to Zoo Miami to see the cats up close.

The kids kept saying “They’re playing like us, like we play on the playground,” Bolton said.

As Kashifa continues to look out for her cubs, the zoo will closely monitor the lion and her cubs.

The zoo plans on having the lions out this weekend, but the schedule will vary as they adapt to their new home.

“It’s a happy ending to an emotional roller coaster,” Magill said.

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