The animals are getting their food and medicine, but Saffoe worries another round of cuts will mean even less time for anything else. He looks on as keeper Kristen Clark works with Naba through the mesh. Clark is getting the lioness used to maneuvers that are helpful for her frequent visits from the vet, such as sticking her tail out for a blood test or pressing her open mouth against the fence for a dental check.
Conditioned like this, the animals can get routine exams quickly and safely. But if there’s no time for training, they will need to be darted with tranquilizers more often, a traumatizing and dangerous procedure.
“We’re kind of getting down to the bare essentials,” Saffoe said. “I have tons of new data that we’ve gathered on the lion cubs, but it’s sitting on my hard disk because research has gone on the back burner.”
After his morning work with the big cats, Saffoe headed out through a light rain to tend to the other end of the food chain.