Ira the Lion , Celebrates 4 Years

The African lion Ira , has celebrated its fourth birthday  at America’s Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College.

Although more than 300 guests came to Ira’s birthday party on Saturday , IRA’s focus was on 3-foot-tall cake made from ground beef frozen in ice and topped with a chicken neck shaped in the numeral 4.

The guests’s were greeted with chocolate and vanilla cake, while children made their own crowns for Ira’s special day.

“Ira loves to destroy boxes – that’s one of his favorite enrichment items,” said Gail Kopperud, a student in the Exotic Animal Training and Management program at America’s Teaching Zoo.

“So we frequently give him boxes, but these are extra-special boxes. They’re wrapped carefully with no tape because he can’t have tape.”

Ira arrived at America’s Teaching Zoo on Aug. 9, 2014. Today, he weighs 400 pounds.

“Ira has a beautiful roar and his mane is complete, so this birthday is his first big-boy birthday,” said Mara Rodriguez, who oversees zoo operations.

Kopperud also said that the  lions aren’t endangered yet, but their numbers are falling significantly and they are going to use Ira to bring awareness about African animals that are in danger.

“He’s an amazing ambassador for African animals …and so we’re using him to bring awareness to all African animals that might be in danger.”

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