OKLAHOMA CITY - After video of a lioness appearing to interact with a little girl and her stuffed animal from 'The Lion King' has gone viral, zoo officials explained more about the playful feline.
"No one really knows for sure what they think," said Kevin Drees, director of Animal Collections at the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden.
But, the lioness was certainly thinking something this weekend at the zoo.
In cellphone video sent to News 4 from Mary Jo Robertson, you can see her interacting with the little girl on her 5th birthday Saturday.
Drees said Moto, the lioness, is pretty young too 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.
"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.
Moto was resting behind the scenes when we went out to the zoo but, when she's out, she's more of a social butterfly than a cat napper, especially if something peaks her interest - like a little girl and Simba perhaps.
"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.