Lioness has energetic response to girl’s Simba toy on other side of exhibit glass

Posted at 4:39 PM, Jul 24, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – When a little girl brought a stuffed Simba toy from 'The Lion King' the Oklahoma City Zoo, a lioness appeared to recognize the little toy.

In a video posted by the girl's aunt, you can see the lioness pawing at the glass and following the girl and Simba.

After the video went viral, zoo officials explained more about the playful feline to KFOR.

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"No one really knows for sure what they think," said Kevin Drees, director of Animal Collections at the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden.

Moto, the lioness, is pretty young as well at just 3 years old. She's only been at the zoo for a few months but, in that time, the new cat on the block has had a lot of fun, Drees said.

"Given that the previous lions have been here for quite a while, it is kind of exciting for the visitors that we get such a playful, young animal in the group," Drees said.

And, that's refreshing because, if you've been to any zoo, you know it's not always easy to find the big cats. The lions and lionesses, much like household felines, can sleep as many as 18 hours per day.

"We think she likes a stimulating environment and, so, she actually comes down to interact with the people because she does have a choice," Drees said.

But just because other animals don't get as much stimulation from guests as Moto doesn't mean it never happens.

"Part of our animal welfare here at the zoo is to provide enrichment items for the animals so they get quite a variety of novel items but also items that make them use their natural abilities," Drees said.

Moto and her sister were brought to the zoo about six months ago. They both could be having cubs in the future.