African lion at Hogle Zoo makes Super Bowl prediction

Feb 8, 2024, 1:56 PM

Vulcan the lion picks a Super Bowl winner. (Mariah Maynes/KSL NewsRadio)...

Vulcan the lion picks a Super Bowl winner. (Mariah Maynes/KSL NewsRadio)

(Mariah Maynes/KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — Vulcan, a 12-year-old African lion at the Hogle Zoo, gave his Super Bowl prediction on Thursday morning. Vulcan predicted that the Kansas City Chiefs would win Sunday’s big game.

On Thursday morning, goalposts sporting each team’s logo were placed an equal distance from Vulcan’s entrance to the outdoor portion of his habitat. They each had the same meat hung from them.

Then, Vulcan entered. The lion began sniffing the San Francisco 49ers goalpost. Vulcan then opted to eat from the post decorated with the Chiefs logo, making his Super Bowl prediction.

Following his snack, Vulcan knocked over the goalpost decorated with the logo of the 49ers, still leaving the meat untouched.

Vulcan, a 12-year-old African lion living at the Hogle Zoo, stands above the knocked-over goal post representing the San Francisco 49ers, following his prediction that the Kansas City Chiefs will win Sunday’s NFL game. (Mariah Maynes/KSL NewsRadio)

Animal enrichment & Super Bowl prediction

Hayley Parkinson, the onsite engagement coordinator for the Hogle Zoo, said the prediction event is an enrichment activity for the animal.

“It’s a really fun way to do some enrichment with our animals. [The activities are] different things that can help animals explore natural behaviors,” said Parkinson.

Lions are curious animals who enjoy sniffing and tearing things, according to Parkinson. However, the themed aspect of the activity is meant to make it enjoyable to human visitors.

According to Parkinson, the Super Bowl pick has become a tradition at the zoo.

Eli, an orangutan who lived at the zoo, used to take part in the enrichment activity, Parkinson said. Eli passed away from breast cancer in 2014, as reported by Deseret News. The orangutan had predicted the outcome of the game correctly seven times.

Vulcan has predicted for the past four years. According to Parkinson, in the first two years, his prediction proved to be correct. He was wrong last year, though.

Vulcan and his pride

Vulcan isn’t the only lion living at the Hogle Zoo. His brother, Baron also calls Salt Lake City home. There are also three female lions, or lionesses, that call the zoo home.

Parkinson said Vulcan and Baron came from Alabama in 2014. They are brothers. They lead the Hogle Zoo’s pack.

“A lot of people are surprised to see that we have two males here leading our pack,” said Parkinson. However, in the wild, different pride arrangements can occur.

“Oftentimes, especially brothers or other very closely related males will co-run a pride together. There tends to be one dominant over the other,” said Parkinson.

“We don’t just have animals here at the zoo because we love them … they also give us a really amazing opportunity to connect to animals in the wild,” said Parkinson.

A portion of the money the zoo earns from visitors, such as entry fees and souvenirs, goes toward helping animals living in the wild.

“That’s a big part of our mission here at Hogle Zoo,” said Parkinson.

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African lion at Hogle Zoo makes Super Bowl prediction