By Vanessa Larkin





As Makena rapidly approaches a year and a half, she is gradually maturing.  Makena’s large size of 225 pounds and over six feet tall when standing on her hind feet, may lead you to believe that she is full grown.  In actuality, she still has a couple of years before she is mature and considered an adult.  In the meantime, what does a one and a half year old African lion in captivity do to occupy her time? 


STEP…That is Sleep, Train, Eat and Play 


Sleep: Besides the frequent five to ten minute cat naps Makena takes between activities, her average amount of time spent sleeping is approximately eighteen hours per day.  Her most active hours are at dusk, just as the sun is setting and the warm Florida temperatures are cooling down.


Train: Makena continues to progress with her training by responding to commands and continuing to walk on a lead very well.   As she approaches maturity, her manners are refined on a daily basis to ensure her safety and the safety of those working with her.  Not too long ago, a custom travel cage was built especially for her, which she really enjoys going in and out of and visiting new places.


Eat: At this stage of Makena’s development, she is currently eating around eight pounds of raw meat supplemented with vitamins each evening.  This entrée includes either beef, chicken, turkey, venison or pork; served with or without bones.


Play: From time to time, the old fashioned game of racing in circles to chase her own tail, catching and releasing it over and over; will occupy her for a while.  Makena’s toys keep her very busy the majority of the time.  Her favorite toy is her ball, which she has perfected dribbling between her paws, around barriers, in all different directions and heights.  When visitors arrive, she loves to show off what she can balance on, or jump off of, sometimes even while carrying around a large palm fraun.


Makena’s senses are very receptive and precise. As she basks in the sun sprawled out on her bench, she intently listens to and watches all of the activity around her.  The birds, squirrels, a frog hopping by or an airplane above does not go un-noticed.  She has even managed to see animals over ½ mile away.  These senses are continuously evolving as she grows and finds new ways to occupy her time.



Please stay tuned to see how this beautiful young lioness matures, and I’ll be sure to keep you posted, so you too can learn more.