Tyler (KYTX) -- A new member of the Caldwell Zoo family is carrying on the name of another special family member who recently lost his battle with cancer.
"Dr. Wilson was a special member of our zoo family here," Hayes Caldwell, Executive Director of Caldwell Zoo in Tyler, said.
Doctor Steve Wilson, known as "Doc" for short, took care of animals in East Texas for more than 40 years, with 11 of those at the Caldwell Zoo.
"That was his pride and joy," Caldwell said.
And it was only fitting that one of the newborn cubs bear his name.
"He was King of the Jungle here at the zoo," Caldwell said.
It's the first litter of lion cubs born at the zoo in 20 years. "They are about 3 weeks old now, and they are with mom inside the den and she's very protective of them," Caldwell said.
It's the kind of love that's hard to shake. Caldwell remembers what Wilson answered when asked about his plans for retirement.
"He said I'm doing what I want to do right now, taking care of these animals," Caldwell said.
That's what Dr. Wilson told CBS19 when we interviewed him back in October of 2012.
"I'll keep on doing what I love, taking care of animals, being at the zoo, I walk around the zoo whistling, can't believe someone is paying me good money to do what I do and have that much fun," Wilson had said.
Doctor Wilson passed away this past December, but he and his work will live on at the zoo.
"He was a great mentor and friend to all of our staff and we'll miss him dearly," Caldwell said.