Sunday, January 6, 2013

Lioness Isis: Boldest Big Cat at Brookfield Zoo

4-years old

While living in Chicago the Brookfield Zoo became our stomping grounds. Marcus was much younger, perhaps two and half, and he was still hanging in the stroller more often than not.

Our first trip to Brookfield Zoo was in February 2009. It was cold, but we loved it. From that point on, there wasn't a week that passed that we didn't visit the zoo for an afternoon outing.

Introduction to the Big Cats

Of course, one of the biggest fascinations were the big cats. The snow leopard and tiger were always a favorite, but then it happened. Brookfield was getting a pair a lions. One male, one female. Isis and Zenda.

For months the zoo promoted Isis and Zenda's arrival although they weren't in their habitat yet. As matter of fact, according to the website, Isis and Zenda arrived in 2008, but we didn't see them until late 2009 I believe.

Anyhow, we went every week with anticipation.

Zenda and Isis: The wild big cats

Finally, it was our lucky week. The lion and lioness were on display. They were in their habitat, and adapting to the area. There were signs that the big cats were acclimating to their new home so please be respectful and not hit the glass.

They were amazing. Zenda was still young, as you could tell by his size and his mane. Zenda would stand and roar. It was not he low moan of the tamed big cats, but one that still screamed he was the "king of the jungle."

Lioness Isis 
But Isis-- Isis was stunning. She was lithe and strong, and still prowled the grounds like a hunter. The big cats were still new to the habitat and had not lost their lust for life. They're eyes were still full of life with the wild flicker of an untamed animal.

They were beautiful.

Jaden meets Isis head on 

During this visit Jaden met Isis head on. The lions habitat has a small alcove on the side of their habitat. Only a few people can stand there at one time, and it offered a clear view of the big cats.

At the moment, just the three of us were there. We had a perfect view.

Jaden was standing directly in front of the glass. She was not leaning against it, but close enough to reach and touch it. Across the way, Isis was lazying on the grass, but I suddenly had a terrible feeling that something bad was about to happen.  At the time, I pushed it aside as paranoia.

Then suddenly, Isis jumped up and leaped across the entire habitat. It was so few leaps and so quick that it I nearly missed it, even though I was watching Isis the entire time.

Isis, came full force, and slammed her head into the Plexiglas separation. It was the spot directly in front of Jaden. To my ears, it sounded like an explosion, and to this day, I can still hear the rattling of the Plexiglas in my head.

Jaden, only four at the time, turned to me and said, "Wow. That was scary." She walked towards me and we all walked out of the alcove.

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