Allow me to introduce you to Luke. The King of the Jungle, the master of the National Zoo. A Black Maned Lion that is a proud father of six new lion cubs at the Smithsonian National Zoo.
We arrived mid morning to the Lion pen, awaiting the release of the lion cubs for their mid-day turnout. Luke was resting easily on top of the hill, having a light snooze while keeping a watchful eyes on the human visitors.
In 2012, half sisters, Shera and Nababiep had their first babies by Luke and all of their children have moved on to other zoos by late 2013. Making room for a new family, March “came in like a lion” and four cubs were born to Shera and Nababiep had two cubs.
On June 13th, the full pride were released together into the lion den with six little lion cubs bounding all over. We anxiously awaited for the doors to open to release the cubs and all of a sudden, there they were!
Looking back up at Luke, who was having a peaceful morning, he looked a bit annoyed. It’s as if he was thinking “Darn! I thought I had gotten rid of them!” He wasn’t really in the mood to play, but it didn’t stop the cubs to taunt him a bit. Luke showed them his displeasure and they kept a respectful distance. That is, until another decided to give it a try.
Lots of loving was going on during the summer day. Moms loved to grab their cubs and give them a big lick and cubs loved to hug their moms.
It was a wonderful morning spending it with Luke and his new pride and I promise to get back there soon.
For the photogs, today was a white balance mess. I decided to not use Auto White Balance which is what I usually do and used Cloudy white balance as it was..well, cloudy. With the green tones of the plantings, and the oranges in the concrete and lions everything was all off. Even trying to adjust with Lightroom to daylight it became to blue, so each series had to be customized with the white balance. Also because of the low light I had to use a low f/stop and high 1600 ISO which I really don’t like doing. A sunny day would be so much better, but the trade off would be dark contrasts with lights and shadows. Ah the challenges of a nature photographer.