Today's image is titled Grawr and was photographed by Kelly Hafermann.
This photo shows a pair of African lions chillin' on some rocks in their pen at the Henry Vilas Zoo on a recent weekend. The male on the right is roaring, or perhaps yawning, as flurries fly and snow accumulates on his mane. The two lions -- appropriately named Henry and Vilas -- can be supported through the Befriend-an-Animal program at the zoo.
Henry and Vilas, two of only scores of pedigreed lions in the nation, gave birth to five cubs back in October 2004. This breeding was part of the African Lion Species Survival Program (SSP) run by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. As detailed in a FAQ issued by the zoo after the births:
The Lion SSP faces several challenges. Only pedigreed lions (those whose genetic history can be traced back to the wild) can be part of the SSP and considered for breeding recommendations and transfers. The pedigreed population of lions numbers less than 80 animals with a target population size of 150 animals. There is currently a great demand for pedigreed lions, with at least 21 institutions interested in acquiring cats. Other challenges zoos are experiencing include unsuccessful breeding, potential reproductive issues and high 30-day cub mortality. The Henry Vilas Zoo is fortunate to play a vital role in the SSP's breeding strategy. Our zoo is one of a handful of institutions that has experienced recent breeding success.
These cubs were zoo patron and media darling following their birth three-and-a-half years ago before departing in spring 2006. The zoo's lions are continuing to breed in species maintenance programs at other zoos, with the male "Avus" siring a litter at the Topeka Zoo in June 2007.
This is the latest entry of Madison Snaps: photos of Madison-area events and locations. The Isthmus group photo pool is the primary source for Madison Snaps, which are published here with the permission of individual contributors. If you are interested in having your photo eligible for Madison Snaps, please respond to the posting on the Flickr group page, or send a message. There is no compensation for Madison Snaps photos, which are © to the respective photographers.