Community to celebrate Leo III and Una’s birthday

UNA’s prized mascots Leo III and Una will be celebrated for their 14th birthday April 12 at 10 a.m. at the George H. Carroll Lion Habitat.

Leo III and his sister Una ranked No. 1 among the 25 Best Real Animal Mascots in College Football by

The nationally ranked lions’ 14th birthday party is free to everyone, and guests will receive cookies and Coke products along with games for children and face painting.

If it rains, the birthday party will be Tuesday, April 25 at 10 a.m.

Judy Jackson, associate vice president of Advancement Services, said the lions will spend the day with children from Kilby Elementary School, along with UNA students and members of the community.

Junior Sarah Sparks said this event is a good opportunity for the community to join together and celebrate the lions.

She has never attended the birthday party for the lions, but she plans to attend the party this year with her two-year-old daughter, she said.

“She loves the lions,” Sparks said. “Any event where the kids have cake is going to be fun.”

Leo III and Una turned 14 years old November 2016.

However, the university celebrates Leo III’s birthday in April because the first generation of UNA’s lions, Leo I, was born in April, said Anne Howard, appointed caretaker.

Junior Anna Adams said she would love to attend the birthday party for the lions.

“I always go to the library and pass the lions on my way,” Adams said. “It’s great to have a day to just celebrate them.”

Senior Ashleigh Shumake said the lions are an important part of the UNA community.

“They are part of our history,” she said.

Leo III and Una should live to be 20 years old, Howard said.

“They are in extremely good health,” Howard said. “They eat food that is only made for lions. We clean out their den with cleaner that is safe, and they have check-ups every year.”

She said she has cared for the lions since 2002.

“I actually kept them with me for a little while because they had to be bottle fed,” Howard said.

She said Leo III and Una are intelligent animals, and they deserve appreciation.

Sophomore Danny Franks said he thinks the lions are the most important aspect of UNA’s campus.

“Leo and Una should be celebrated two times every year,” Franks said. “They are what make this university so unique and awesome.”