Student Voice

Zoo celebrates Ira’s fourth birthday

Ira+the+lion+at+America%27s+Teaching+Zoo+celebrates+his+4th+birthday+by+sampling+his+cake+made+of+meat+and+flavored+ice+layers+on+Saturday%2C+Feb.+3%2C+2018+at+Moorpark+College+in+Moorpark%2C+Calif.+Photo+credit%3A+James+Detwiler
Ira the lion at America's Teaching Zoo celebrates his 4th birthday by sampling his cake made of meat and flavored ice layers on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 at Moorpark College in Moorpark, Calif. Photo credit: James Detwiler

Ira the lion at America's Teaching Zoo celebrates his 4th birthday by sampling his cake made of meat and flavored ice layers on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 at Moorpark College in Moorpark, Calif. Photo credit: James Detwiler

Ira the lion at America's Teaching Zoo celebrates his 4th birthday by sampling his cake made of meat and flavored ice layers on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 at Moorpark College in Moorpark, Calif. Photo credit: James Detwiler

Kaylee Cornwall

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






America’s teaching zoo celebrated its lion’s fourth birthday on Feb. 3

Children, students, staff and more gathered with everything needed for a great festivity, including a traditional cake for the kids and a blood-flavored cake for the 400-pound cat.

“We got him as a cub over three years ago as an educational loan from Las Vegas,” said Mara Rodriquez, instructional technician at the zoo. “They told us Ira would be the perfect fit.”

A sizable turnout showed up throughout the day to respect one of the most popular animals at the zoo for his fourth birthday. From babies to adults, crowns were made and adorned in honor of the “king of the campus” as he tore through his presents and cake, made of ice consisting of blood and nutrients. In addition to his typical eight to 10 pounds of meat consumed per day, they wrapped his favorites into cardboard boxes that he ripped open.

“Every year we give him ‘presents’ including behavioral enrichment, such as femur bones, blood blocks, whole pigeons, cow parts, stuff like that,” said Taylor Marc, a 20-year-old student at the exotic animal training program. “He just loves it.”

The lion is also said to be possessive of the food due to his heightened senses, which can be scary to visitors, and even trainers, at times.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s scary when he’s above you roaring and every fiber in your being is telling you to move,” said Rodriguez. “But you just stay there, and he calms down.”

Ira_Birthday-03hr-Detwiler.jpg

The trainers have gotten more comfortable around him though, and have even taught the African lion some tricks, like laying down with his back paws against the cage to apply cream to an injured paw, according to another one of his trainers. While male lions may live 18 to 22 years with human care, lions in the wild are lucky to make it to eight, said Rodriguez.

“I always say, the hardest thing to be in the wild is a male lion,” said the trainer.

Students studying Ira and the other animals through the program love interacting with the variety of exotic resources Moorpark College has provided.

“It’s such a unique opportunity since there are only two in the country and only one with what EATM encompasses,” said student Lindsay Dussaigne.

The zoo is used for quite a few other things, too.

“Many different professors utilize the zoo as a resource, in courses such as English, photography, biology, journalism, and even sculpting,” said zoo operations supervisor Michlyn Hines. “All of our students especially love Ira, but they love all of our animals.”

America’s Teaching Zoo is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends to the public and is free for all students.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




*