Ira’s birthday celebration will include a preview of the lion’s newly expanded enclosure


Ira will celebrate his sixth birthday at America's Teaching Zoo on Feb. 1. The public will also get a preview of his newly expanded home called Ira's Kingdom. Photo courtesy of Moorpark Collage Photo Gallery.

By Justin Downes

America’s Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College is inviting the public to celebrate Ira the Lion’s upcoming sixth birthday on Saturday, Feb. 1. The zoo will host a party with a various assortment of activities ranging from crafts to cake for attendees.

Last November, America’s Teaching Zoo raised $550,000, including a $200,000 donation from Moorpark College to build a larger enclosure for Ira to roam. Zoo Operations Instructional Technician, Mara Rodriguez estimated that Ira’s Kingdom will be completed in March, but will be open for the public to view during Ira’s Birthday Celebration on Feb. 1.

“Our focus is introducing his mane cave, not man cave, to the public,” Rodriguez said.

The birthday celebration will also include animal shows at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., as well as animal demonstrations at 3:30 p.m.

Exotic Animal Training and Management became a major at Moorpark College in 1974, starting out with a single gray wolf named Kiska. The zoo is now home to 130 different kinds of animals including tigers, a hyena, mountain lions, monkeys, birds and a reptile exhibit.

Cake will be served for the public at 1 p.m., while EATM students will continue their annual tradition of presenting Ira a cake made of meat.

“Ira’s birthday is our most highly attended event. People have loved watching him grow from a cub to a king on campus. I value the turnout,” Rodriguez expressed.

The zoo opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. Admission is $9 for adults and $7 for children and seniors. Children under 2 and students with a Moorpark College ID get in for free. For more information call 805-378-1441.