Monday was the last day people could see a family of lions at Saskatoon's Forestry Farm before they headed back to their home zoo in Ontario.

Female and male lions,  Dobi and Cooey, have been in the city for the past two years. Dobi gave birth to two cubs at the Saskatoon zoo, named Nathan and Shadow.

Over the last year regulars have watched the cubs grow and helped name them.

Mike Strohhofer said his son, River, turned down several other activities on Monday so they could see the lions.

"He gets a really good sense of what they are. They're real animals not just storybook animals," said Strohhofer.

Staff at the zoo said the lions have helped Saskatoon.

"It just gives more credibility to the facility," said John Moran, who is the park manager. 

"It also allows us to delve more into educational projects and programs touching on animals from around the world rather than just here in Saskatchewan,"she said.

Though staff at the zoo know it's time for the lions to go, they said it will be hard to say goodbye.

"I'm going to be really sad to see them go because I worked here all summer," said Kristin Cunanan, who was there Monday to see the lions for the last time.  "I would come and see them on my breaks and just watch them."

Staff at the zoo said the space will be temporarily used to house some cougars who have outgrown their current space.