Canadian zookeepers play hockey with lions, because of course they do (Photo)

Canadians are the evangelists of hockey. It's not enough for us to have a particular fondness for the game. We want everyone else to have it too (so long as you don't eventually become better than us at it -- then we hate you). So if you come to this country, expect us to drag you out onto the ice and educate you on the ins and outs of our national pastime at the first opportunity.

Even if you are a lion.

This is a photo from the Oaklawn Farm Zoo in Aylesford, Nova Scotia, home of Sterk, the African Lion. That's him up there, casually playing a little shinny with his keeper, Maria Weinberg.

Here's another shot:

These photos, uploaded to the Zoo's Facebook page earlier this week, were taken during a cold spell at the zoo that saw the pond in the lion's enclosure freeze over enough to walk on. And when that happens in this country, regardless of where it happens, regardless of whether the pond is surrounded by ferocious predators, there's only one thing to do.

From Postmedia:

“It just happened that the pond that’s in their acre enclosure [was frozen] and he liked going on the ice, so Maria though she’d just for fun take down a hockey stick,” said Gail Rogerson, who owns the zoo with her husband Ron.

[...] “It’s like any cat, you know how cats will adjust to whatever,” said Rogerson. “Lions have been bred in captivity for generations. Any lions that are in zoos have been born, well any Canadian lions, have been accustomed to the climate.”

The culture, too. Sterk was born in Ontario a year and a half ago, so he's a second-generation Canadian. And like, most second-generations, he appreciates his hockey. Another successful convert.

But this isn't just a story about how fanatical Canada is about this game. It's a story about how amazing Nova Scotia is at churning out the next big thing in the game.

You thought Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon were the best that province could do? Yeah, so did I, until I realized the province is maybe a generation away from HOCKEY-PLAYING LIONS.

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Harrison Mooney

is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!