Inside every cat is the heart of a predator -- and it seems at the Oregon Zoo, the reverse is true, too.
When zoo keepers teased their lions with a large piece of rope, the big cats had much the same reaction as house kittens, who are all too familiar with the game.
Beth Foster, the lead keeper at the zoo's Africa exhibit, said the "Leaping Lion Toy" was modeled after a teaser toy one might find at a pet store and was designed to help the lions exercise their predatory instincts.
In a video, she demonstrated that the toy is essentially a rope with knots tied throughout, which encourages the lions to jump and reach it with their claws. She showed how the keepers dangle it from the roof down into the predator's exhibit.
Unlike a regular house cat, once the lions are able to reach the rope, they "rip it off, and shred it to pieces," in natural predatory fashion, she said in the video.
The exercise trains their powerful back legs, which are often used to pounce on prey in the wild.
"They love it," Foster said in a press statement. "We try to encourage all the natural abilities that make them who they are."
In addition to the leaping lion toy, zoo keepers often come up with new ways to entertain their lions, like hiding food on rocks, or walking a goat through the vacated habitat to leave "game trails."