An Experience of A Lifetime- Cub Cuddling and The Lion Habitat Ranch hosted a visit from the grand prize winners of the Cub Encounter Contest, Keith Olsen and Stacey Moore. They came all the way out from Bellingham, Washington to play with the newest members of our Vegas pride.

cub encounter winners

I couldn’t wait to give you guys the full run-down of their visit, and Stacey Moore was kind enough to share some words about her experience. I hope you enjoy their journey as much  as I enjoyed sharing it with them!

Meeting The Lion Cubs of Las Vegas

The opportunity to share this special time in the cubs’ lives was such a treat for both Keith and I. Who gets to hold, nuzzle, cuddle, bottle feed, and burp a baby lion? I did and I loved it! I’m addicted now and can’t wait to go back to Vegas and visit the ranch again to see how the cubs progress as they get older.

Stacey smile

Our visit was on a sunny December day which matched the disposition of the sweet lion cubs who provided us with some Christmas Cheer. Cash and Pepe were absolutely delightful. I was surprised at how soft their coats were. Their paws were so large, but they were gentler than a small puppy.

Their “talk”, which I described as a sort of a chirp at first, later became more of a noise a puppy would make, then sounded like the familiar vocals of my recently departed, 18 year-old domestic tabby, Kato— a half a meow. (Kato also used to do a barely audible version.) At one point, Cash did a little growl, which I felt more than heard. Too cute!

Photo by Rebecca Owen

Photo by Rebecca Owen

The tour with you and your father of the enclosures with the full-grown lions was another highlight. Cristina, the trainer, answered a myriad of questions about general lion behaviors and specific questions about the lions on the ranch.

Hilary lion tour

The way the lions talked to one another was amazing. At first, I was oblivious to it, as I was busy taking photographs. Then Keith interrupted me saying, “Stacey, Stacey, do you hear that?” I thought, at first, it was being piped in. “It’s not. It’s live… It’s the lions! Listen to that!”

I can’t imagine where else on this planet I could possibly experience listening to all these lions roaring in unison. They appeared to be spreading the word that we were there. I would certainly not want to hear this at night out in the wild. I get shivers when I think of it and giddy when I try to describe the sound to friends and family. One of the videos I took has good audio of a few of the lions, but the sound we heard at the beginning of the tour with so many of them in unison has to be experienced to be believed.

The biggest highlight of the tour was when we arrived at the large enclosure with the six lionesses and you pointed out Louie B… the cub we held on July 1, 1999.

Stacey and Keith

Louie B has grown to be such a regal creature. She was more interested in sunning herself than paying us any attention. However, when we got closer, she began to talk and luckily, when I turned the video on, I got some great footage and audio of her. We have the framed photo from 1999 and the photo and videos from 2012 on the computer and it’s amazing to compare them.

Louie B

If Louie B had been a cub born in the wild, her chances of being around this long are not very good. As I heard the head trainer Keith Evans say, trophy hunters are the biggest threat to lions in the wild. It’s such a shame. I’m thankful that these lions have such loving, caring humans taking such good care of them and protecting them.

Lucky licking Christina

The whole team made us feel so very welcome. This was truly the best Christmas present we could have hoped for this year and will be an experience that we will never forget. The Lion Habitat will probably be receiving a “Trainer 4 A Day” appointment from Keith Olsen in the not too distant future. =)

Thanks again, Hilary, for this opportunity! Keith may have been the “official” Grand Prize winner of your Cub Encounter contest, but as his guest, I felt pretty lucky to visit the Lion Habitat Ranch, too.



Thanks, Stacey, for sharing your experience with us!

And don’t worry, fellow adventurers. More awesome giveaways are coming you way in 2013. Stay tuned for more once-in-a-lifetime opportunities… I’m pretty confident in saying they’ll be the cat’s meow. =)

If you are interested in learning more about The Lion Habitat Ranch, or making your own appointment to come see the pride, visit their website and ‘like’ them on Facebook!

Beverly loving on lioness


20 thoughts on “An Experience of A Lifetime- Cub Cuddling

  1. Wow. What a great experience- especially to have held a cub and to return to see it later as an adult. I volunteered at an animal sanctuary in Ecuador and had the opportunity to work with adult lions. It was amazing, exhilirating, and kind of frightening! I can only hope to work with cubs some day. Congratulations to the couple for being able to have this wonderful adventure!

    • Thank you, Christina! I know, they are such majestic creatures. The photos never do them justice. To stare into their amber eyes is such a breathtaking and indescribable experience. But you walk away feeling different, don’t you? How long ago was this? Do you know how the cubs are doing?

      And I am so excited to have premiered this cub encounter as my first giveaway! I can’t wait to do more awesome things like this in the future. =)

    • Thanks, John! You need to come out and check it out sometime. The lion are even more breathtaking in person. The way they’ve designed the habitat, you can get super close to them without fear of being eaten. =)

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