By John McDevitt
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Guests at the Philadelphia Zoo today were part of a birthday celebration for two big cats born a year ago at the zoo.
Zoo visitors sang to the birthday boys — first for Lucha, a jaguar cub (see related story), and then for Dian, a snow leopard (see related story), both born at the Philadelphia Zoo, less than a week apart, last year.
Today, visiting kids put their names on birthday cards for the animals. There was cake for the party guests, and the cats got toys and scented cardboard animals.
“They’re so cute,” said one little girl.
Both cats are candidates for a national breeding program, according to Kay Buffamonte, the lead keeper of the “Big Cat Falls” exhibit at the zoo.
“At one year old they are ready to leave — they can leave their mom and go to another facility, which is what we’re planning for and acting on now,” she says. “And then they’ll have time to acclimate to their new facility, get to meet their new partner, and then they’ll grow from there.”
Buffamonte says Dian’s twin brother moved to his new home at the Sunset Zoo in Kansas a couple of weeks ago, as part of the breeding program.