So, it was just a totally normal weekend for us. Do some laundry, run some errands, cuddle some lion cubs. Wait, what???

Yep – we were invited to a very special blogger event at the Bowmanville Zoo, and I’m going to skip right to the highlight: the opportunity to play with, cuddle and get photos taken with the five-week-old lion cubs, up close and personal!

Maggie didn’t want to get quite as close!

They’re just starting to teethe, so there was a lot of finger-nibbling going on!  
I was interested to learn the Zoo’s plan to hand-train two of the three cubs to prepare them to be released into the wild (training that their domesticated mother could not provide). Apparently it’s a tough task, but they’ve done it before, and it works.
Photos with the cubs are now available each day for $10. Photos will be taken by the tent outside of the Splash Pad and the schedule will be posted at the gate each morning. They’re also running a “name the cubs” contest on their Facebook page.
The adults got an additional photo op with Robbie the tiger, who was rescued from (of all places) a strip club in Toronto.

Animal keeper and trainer Robert offered lots of educational information for the parents and kids, encouraging those who want to protect species in the wild to donate to organizations that really make a difference in terms of conservation, rather than activist groups which may not actually be doing anything to help.
He also reminded anyone who visits countries overseas not to bring back any products made with tiger parts, and here in Canada not to purchase items containing imported palm oil (as its use has a impact on animals’ habitats). Instead look for products with oils like canola or vegetable that can be found in Canada. 
When it comes to animals in general, my interest is probably below average (no pets growing up, had a dog for a few years as an adult but felt guilty we couldn’t spend more time with it, no pets now) but I do really enjoy zoos, and the opportunity to see wildlife from around the world that I can’t see next door (literally) at the farm. This zoo delivers, and is condensed enough that even little ones can handle walking around the whole property.

As always, lunch is a big event for the kids…
…and the animals!

Getting close to the giraffe
Enjoying one of the little rides in Funland

All in all, it was a pretty fantastic day which none of us will forget soon!
Interested in checking out the Bowmanville Zoo yourself? 
***They’re offering a special discount for This Mom Loves readers – just print the coupon below, which doesn’t expire for the rest of the 2014 season, and receive adult or child admission for only $10!***

Facts about the Bowmanville Zoo:
  • It’s North America’s oldest operating private zoo, running since 1919
  • It spans 42 acres
  • The Zoo also has a Splash Bash and Funland 
  • There are several cafés and a gift shop
  • Animal shows are offered several times a day in the Animatheatre
  • Camel rides are available for an additional fee

Disclosure: We were provided with zoo admission, lunch and the lion cub encounter for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own. If I didn’t think holding a baby lion was supercool, I would have said so. But that would have been crazy.

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