VIDEO: National Zoo lion cubs pass swim test

May 7, 2014 7:03:51 AM PDT
The National Zoo's four African lion cubs will soon be on display after passing one serious test this week.

It was the all-important swim reliability test to see if the 2-month-old cubs can not only swim but also navigate toward shore and climb their furry paws from the moat to dry land.

The first boy wanted out pretty quickly, and the girl stayed in the longest. The other two boys did swim a good distance along the wall.

All four succeeded, and even some neighbors came out to see what all the commotion was about.

Animal care staff at the Washington, DC, zoo placed the cubs into the water and helped guide the cubs towards land. By passing the test, the cubs will prove that they are ready to safely explore their outdoor habitat -- and perhaps more importantly for visitors, ready to be seen by the public.

"The gloves that I was wearing were puncture-resistant gloves, and so that protects me when I'm getting up cub out of the water, that if they turn around and bite me they can't actually break through," animal keeper Kristen Clark said.

Passing means they all kept their heads above water, even the ones that submerged completely when they were put into the water.

"The four cubs were born March 2 to 9-year-old mother Shera. They don't have names yet and only identified by their shave marks. Two other lion cubs, born January 24, successfully passed their swim test back in April.

Keepers are confident that they are ready for introduction, with their big public debut is set for Friday.