For Release: Dec. 22, 2006
John Gibbons (202) 633-3083
Amy Kehs (202) 309-5543
National Zoo's Three New African Lions to Make Public Debut
The three new African lions at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, two females and one male, will go on limited public exhibit beginning Saturday, Dec. 23, weather permitting. The two female lions made their first media appearance Friday morning, Dec. 22, as they explored their outdoor yard during a special preview for the press.
Since arriving from a private reserve in South Africa on Oct. 30, the new lions have been in quarantine, monitored and evaluated for their health, they also have begun the long and intricate process of being introduced to each other, their new environment and the Zoo's resident female lion, Lusaka. The new female lions, three-year-old Nababiep (na-ba-BEEP) and two-year-old Shera (shee-RAH), are sisters from two different litters and weigh 297 pounds and 293 pounds respectively. The one-year-old male lion, Luke, came from a different family group on the same reserve. He currently weighs 191 pounds and still has the markings of a cub. The three join Lusaka , an approximately 15-year-old female lion who came to the National Zoo in August 2003 from the Wildlife Waystation in California. The three new lions and resident lion Lusaka will rotate their time in the exhibit.
Most lions in the wild can be found in Africa with a very small population in India. In Africa, their homes range from the southern part of the Sahara to northern South Africa, but lions are absent from tropical forest areas. The lion is listed as “vulnerable” by the World Conservation Union. There are approximately 23,000 lions left in the wild. Of these, a small population of approximately 300 lions in the Gir Forest of northwest India is listed as endangered.
The three new lions are a part of the Species Survival Plan for African lions managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
# # #