Western Australia’s ability to make a difference to global lion conservation took a leap forward today, as two new African Lions were introduced to the Perth public.
Environment Minister Stephen Dawson officially welcomed the new big cats and opened Perth Zoo’s breeding facility. The new lion exhibit is an important part of the Future Zoo plans, giving animals more room to roam and visitors more exciting and engaging experiences.
Sisters ‘Uzuri’ and ‘Makeba’ were born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo and will become the new breeding females for Perth Zoo’s lion breeding program.
The newly arrived three-year-olds are closely bonded and will live close to the zoo’s 19-year-old lioness ‘Shinyanga’, who occupies a separate territory completed in the first stage of the lion exhibit upgrade last year. In the future, that exhibit will be used to also house male lions imported from North America.
For zoo visitors, it will mean being part of the creation of a new pride from its very earliest stages.
Uzuri and Makeba will now settle into the $3.4 million, world-class facility which has been optimised for breeding with special dens, holding areas and the capacity to hold four adult lions and four cubs.
Managed breeding is critical for this species which has already gone extinct from 26 African countries. There are as few as 20,000 lions left in the wild.
Comments attributed to Environment Minister Stephen Dawson:
“Breeding for conservation is a game of patience. Zoo staff will work with their global zoo colleagues to transfer breeding males to Perth Zoo in the future to establish a new pride with the best genes from two hemispheres.
“One of Perth Zoo’s fundamental goals is to engage the public and inspire them to act for wildlife conservation. Nothing engages quite like new cubs. We have some very exciting years ahead of us.
“Our zoo visitors will be able to learn about the challenges lions face in the wild and how to be a part of protecting these amazing animals.+
“Lions are extinct in 26 of Africa’s 54 countries. The work being done in Western Australia will contribute to safeguarding genetic diversity and help provide a safety-net against total species extinction in the future.”