Great Cats at the National Zoo 2004-5

The cheetah cubs born at the National Zoo in November were only on display to the public from 12-2 each day in February.

If this cheetah looked lonely in December 2004, it was because the birth of four baby cheetahs which necessitated isolating the female with her kittens.

We got there right at noon and waited in line for about half an hour, but it was chilly and the babies were apparently already tired and cold. Is this not the ultimate beleaguered mommy picture?

Because of the temperature and their busy morning, they spent all of the time we were there climbing over and under their mother, who sat with her back to the crowd and occasionally cast a pitiful expression over her shoulder.

The other cheetahs, meanwhile, were separated in different enclosures looking for entertainment. Does it seem cruel to put the zebras within easy sight of a cheetah who can't get at them, like waving a steak in front of someone's nose?

This one slept in an annoyed, twitching cat curl while the line to the cubs went snaking past.

Then it woke and paced around with another cheetah, separated by a fence, largely ignored by the crowd waiting to see the babies.

And in other big cat news...the king of the jungle wasn't interested in getting groovy.

Presumably this male and female were placed in the same enclosure for mating purposes, but the male spent the whole day pacing, roaring and huffing quite loudly, so that he could be heard from quite a distance away.

No, really, not interested. This was as close as they got to hot jungle love the entire time we were there.

Here's the lazy lion in the sun in late 2004.