Canon 10D
Canon 75-300 at 300mm
ISO 100
f13, 1/250 second


African lion Panthera leo male and cub

In my photography classes, I tell people what captive animals, like those in zoos, can be used for, and this is one example. Yes, it would be better to catch this in the wild – and next to impossible. Being this close to African lions (Panthera leo) would cause them to be very much alert to your presence, unless they were habituated to humans like those you find on "photo safaris," in which case you might as well be in a zoo.

But here's the thing: just because there are lions in the photo doesn't mean it should be "wild." On this particular day, the cubs were enjoying their first day outside. There had been concerns that dad here wouldn't take kindly to them, something that reputable zoos and breeding centers are well aware of, so introduction is meticulously careful.

As can be seen, dad's extremely mellow with the whole affair, and the cubs were having a blast. The double meaning of "pride" in regards to this photo doesn't seem misplaced at all, and it was heartwarming to watch the family outing, more so when you know that rejections and outright hostility are a serious possibility and make housing and handling a very different kettle of fish. Is it safe to call this a success story? Maybe not, but when it seems to be working as smoothly as this, it makes zookeeping much easier.