The Zoo is home to three adult African lions that arrived in December 2011 from an animal park outside Pretoria, South Africa. There is one male, Chester, born in September 2010 and two females: Zuri, born in September 2010 and Asha, born in January of 2011.
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List status: Vulnerable. African lions are protected under CITES Appendix II. They are part of the Zoo’s Species Survival Plan (SSP) Program. It is believed that during the past two decades, the lion population has declined by nearly 30 percent. Main threats listed by IUCN are indiscriminate killing by humans and prey base depletion. Other problems include habitat loss, agricultural expansion and geographic isolation of different groups.
Lions have vanished from more than 80 percent of their historic range and currently exist in 28 countries in Africa and one country in Asia (India, the Asiatic lion). Historically, lions were found in Africa and from Greece through the Middle East to northern India. African lions are most common in plains or savanna habitat with a large prey base (mostly ungulates) and sufficient cover of tall grasses and sedges. Lions can live in forested, shrubby, mountainous and semi-desert habitats.
Large ungulates, birds, rodents, fish, ostrich eggs, amphibians and reptiles. Lions also actively scavenge, taking cues from hyenas and vultures.
Lions roar in chorus. This may be a form of social bonding and the roars can be heard as far as five miles away!
In the wild, most male lions live between five and nine years, while females live until 15 or 16 years. In the Serengeti, females have lived up to 18 years.
Individual lions can be identified by their unique whisker spot pattern, similar to how our fingerprints are used.