Cats rule the Internet. Most of these online royals are domesticated house cats, small, fuzzy and cute. But big cats need love, too, and they're getting it at the Oregon Zoo in Portland. Keepers created a device they call the "Leaping Lion Toy," a much larger version of the sort of string toys you drag around the house for Fluffy McFluffytoes to attack.
The Leaping Lion Toy is crafted from knotted butcher paper long enough to keep a safe distance between the keeper and the playful lions in their enclosure. Sometimes extra cardboard cutouts are attached at the end to give the lions something to catch and carry back down. The toy inspires some impressive acrobatics, highlighted in slow-motion video sequences released by the zoo earlier this week.
The big cats' lead keeper Beth Foster notes that "lions are not known for their leaping abilities." However, the large predators have impressive jumping skills for their size. "In the wild, lions use their powerful hind legs to spring on their prey at the last second and bring them down. Most of the animals they hunt can outrun them, so they need to ambush and overpower their prey in a sudden rush," said Foster. The Oregon Zoo's lions prove this to be true as they ambush and overpower the Leaping Lion Toy with mighty leaps and bites.