A Companion for Koza!

Posted at 4:55 pm December 28, 2005 by Marcia Redding

I am pleased to report that Koza, our six-week-old lion cub who is being raised at the Wild Animal Park’s Animal Care Center, now has a buddy! In previous blog entries I mentioned the possibility of aquiring a canine companion for our little lion, as he has no littermates to play with. Lions are very social animals and it was decided that another social animal would provide the closest match to life in a normal lion pride.

Koza’s new buddy is a female Italian mastiff (also known as a cane corso) puppy named Cairo, who was located through Operation K9 Rescue, a San Diego-based non-profit rescue organization specializing in American bulldogs and rare mastiffs. Cairo’s mother was evacuated from New Orleans to San Diego after hurricane Katrina, where she gave birth to three puppies. Operation K9 Rescue saved more than 60 dogs from Katrina.

Several factors were considered when choosing Koza’s playmate. We needed a breed that would be large and sturdy, and have an even but not overly submissive temperment. We also were committed to rescuing a dog from a shelter or rescue society. Little Cairo fits the bill perfectly. She is reddish brown and has the typical wrinkly mastiff face and is quite the looker!

As of now the two buddies are housed next to each other while Cairo completes a quarantine period, to be sure she is healthy – then – look out! I think we can expect some extremely energetic play sessions when these two get together. I know what everybody is going to ask for – photos! I will get some posted ASAP. Something to look forward to!

Marcia Redding is a senior mammal keeper at the Wild Animal Park.

Here’s video of Koza in the nursery.

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12 Responses to “A Companion for Koza!”

  1. Karen says:

    I think the idea of a canine companion for Koza is awesome. They had an orphaned hynena baby paired with lion cubs on an Animal Planet show recently which turned out pretty well, until the hyena got older and more aggressive. Thanks for sharing your wonderful stories. – Karen

  2. Cindy says:

    This is so cute, I cannot wait to see the pictures (video) of them playing. Thank you SDZ for caring for all animals. I love your conviction of getting a shelter animal and with what went on in the world this year, I think it is fitting that Cairo is a Katrina survivir as is Koza. Thanks for all of the hard work and thought that goes into taking care of all of the SDZ creatures.


  3. Michelle says:

    Thank you for the update! I had been wondering about Koza and a playmate. I’m so happy for both of them!

  4. Jeannie says:

    Thanks so much for this wonderful info. I’m so glad Koza will have a playmate. I’m not really sure what a mastiff looks like – how big will Cairo get? Can’t wait to see the pictures. And thank you to the SDZ for finding Koza a playmate who needed a home. You guys are the best!

  5. Shirley Sykes says:

    Hi Marcia. I got to see Koza yesterday at the (extremely crowded) Wild Animal Park, mainly sleeping, but he did look up for his picture a couple of times before settling back to sleep. A week ago I saw him getting a belly rub from a keeper (you?), and his new buddy Cairo was on the floor patiently watching. Can’t wait to see them interacting! They seem about the same size right now, though that surely won’t last long. Thanks so much for keeping us up-to-date on him and all the other wonderful critters.

  6. LINDA says:

    I can hardly wait to see pictures of these two together. What will happen to Cairo when Koza has gotten too big for them to stay together?

  7. Carole says:

    How wonderful! I can hardly wait to see these two beautiful animals together.

  8. Robert says:

    I think the idea of pairing the two is great. It worked well with my dogs and cats, but why a mastiff? If Cairo’s mother wasn’t so readily available, would the mastiff be the first choice of breed?

  9. Marcia Redding says:

    Robert, your question is a good one. There are a number of breeds that would have fit the bill, but little Cairo was available, the right size, and at the correct stage in her puppy immunizations. She also needed a home! Hopefully this will be a win – win situation.

  10. susan b says:

    I have been so fascinated by Su Lin and Bai Yun that I have not checked on the other inhabitants of SDZ. Now that I have I am going to keep checking on the progress of the lion cub and the puppy. What a great idea! I am sure that both of them will be watched in the future for any signs of agressiveness on Koza’s part (and on Cairo’s) to ensure their mutual safety. Will there be other lions with Koza, or will Koza be interacting only with Cairo?

  11. elaine says:

    Hi, Are we ever going to get a ” Lion Cam” ? I’m currently addicted to the Panda cam, but big cats are my first love, and would love to see these guys on a daily basis, Especially the progress of Koza with his new playmate!! Thank You Much!!

  12. Stacy says:

    Yeah! Koza has a buddy. I’ve been away from the blogs for the holidays, but I am so happy to read about the new addition. I, too, can’t wait for the video (hint hint 🙂 )