After a two-month wait, Mogo Wildlife Park has reopened with a free community party.
Up to 1000 tickets were offered for the Saturday, February 29, event, with most snapped up days in advance.
Making his political debut was Phoenix, born shortly before fire bore down on the park on New Year's Eve 2019.
In arguably one of the better perks of the state's top job, Premier Gladys Berejiklian got to touch the thick fur of the strong young lion cub, as zookeeper Chad Staples kept a safe grip.
Phoenix tolerated admirers, snapping cameras, flashing lights, boom microphones and television cameras for a few minutes before making his feelings known with a growl.
If he was a star before the zoo reopened, Saturday made his place in the firmament permanent.
Mrs Berejiklian praised the "15 brave staff" who worked to save the zoo for hours on December 31.
She said Phoenix "represented hope for this region".
Bega MP Andrew Constance and RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons applauded the reopening of the park.
Gilmore MP Fiona Phillips also celebrated the opening and toured the park.