A Delaware Valley College alumnus is caring for three new lion cubs

Dr. Ken Keiffer '04, an animal science alumnus, is the veterinarian caring for three new lion cubs.

Mar 03, 2014

Three lion cubs were born at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J., this year and a Delaware Valley College alumnus is part of the team making sure they grow up healthy.

Dr. Ken Keiffer ’04, an animal science alumnus, has been a veterinarian at Six Flags since 2008. He’s sharing his experiences there with current DelVal students.

On Feb. 22, he gave DelVal’s Pre-Vet Club a behind the scenes park tour.

“It was such a great experience to go see the Safari facilities,” said Pre-Vet student Lauren Dunn ’17, who is planning to major in conservation and wildlife management. “I'd driven through before with my family, but as an aspiring vet I was always curious as to what was behind the scenes. To actually go and see that was amazing, and only made me more certain that becoming a vet is exactly what I want to do. It was such a great honor, and I can't thank Dr. Keiffer enough!”

Jason Doll ’16, Pre-Vet Club president, said seeing and meeting the lions was an opportunity he won’t forget.

“It was amazing to not only get the opportunity to have a have a glimpse into the world of zoo medicine (the field in which I want to have a career), but also to realize that like most young ones, these cubs are something extraordinary," said Doll, a Pre-Vet student who is a zoo science major. "They are a breeding program success story that will positively impact their species' conservation status.” 

Two cubs were born Jan. 10 and one was born in early February to a different mother.

All three were pulled because the mothers weren’t properly caring for them.

“One looked like it was in distress, and we made the decision to intervene with both cubs in the first set,” said Dr. Keiffer. “Moms will sometimes abandon a single cub because they’d rather raise a litter.”

He said mothers do this because, from an evolutionary standpoint, it makes more sense to raise a group.


A lion cub born at Six Flags takes a bottle from Dr. Ken Keiffer '04
A lion cub born at Six Flags takes a bottle from Dr. Ken Keiffer '04

They decided to intervene with both for their safety and because it’s easier to raise them together and introduce them to the pride as pair. 

The third cub was born to a first time mother who wasn’t responding to or caring for it.

All three of the cubs will be raised together and by 12-18 months they will join the pride.

Dr. Keiffer has also visited the Pre-Vet Club to discuss specific cases students were interested in, answer questions about the field, and give advice about applying to veterinary school and finding jobs.

He’s remained involved and said a good number of DelVal students have interned with him at Six Flags.

Dr. Pamela Reed, a DelVal faculty member served as a mentor for Dr. Keiffer when he was a student.

“Dr. Reed is a great source of advice, not only is she a veterinarian herself, but she’s also seen students go through the application process as an adviser,” said Dr. Keiffer. “So, she’s really able to guide them through it.”


Pre-Vet club

The DelVal Pre-Vet Club visits the cubs

At DelVal, Dr. Keiffer was involved with the Animal Science Society and also, took advantage of internship opportunities.

“I had a great experience at DelVal,” said Dr. Keiffer. “The classes were good, teachers were good and I still have a few friends I’m close with who I met there.”

He interned for Six Flags as a DelVal student. Then, he stayed on as a seasonal employee, went to vet school and stayed in touch with the people he met there.

Six Flags hired him right after he graduated from Ohio State University’s veterinary program.

His hard work paid off and he is working in a field he loves.

“It’s a great field. I really recommend it to people as long as they’re willing to put in the hard work and time,” said Dr. Keiffer.

For more about the cubs visit: