There were roars of excitement as Perth Zoo’s lions began celebrating World Lion Day early to raise awareness about their majestic, yet vulnerable species.

Zookeepers surprised young lionesses, Uzuri and Makeba with specially created big cat presents filled with herbs, perfumes and scents of other animals which they tore into ahead of World Lion Day which will be celebrated at the Zoo on Saturday 10 August.

Perth Zoo is committed to safeguarding a future for big cats and hopes the local community will join the at the Zoo tomorrow.

Senior Zookeeper, Becky Thomasson, said: “It will be a fun filled day for an important cause – to raise awareness about the plight of lions.”

“Most people do not realise that in the last 25 years, we have lost half of the world’s lion population due to hunting, the exotic pet trade and unsustainable tourism practices. Devastatingly, lions have gone extinct in 26 African countries with fewer than 20,000 individuals left in the wild.”

“This makes the work that we do more important than ever before,” said Becky. “Lions are in such peril that zoos around the world are working together to ensure we have sustainable populations in the care of good zoos, providing a safety-net against extinction.”  

 Uzuri and Makeba arrived from NSW last year to help rebuild Western Australia’s lion pride.

ldquo;At the moment we are working with our international zoo colleagues to find them mates, so we can be an active player in efforts to breed and conserve the species.

“But everyone can make a difference! By visiting Perth Zoo you’re supporting efforts to save lions.”

“And if travelling abroad, think twice about having your photo alongside a lion cub. Chances are they have been specifically bred and removed from their mothers for unethical tourism opportunities. When older, many will be used for trophy hunting,” said Becky.

World Lion Day celebrations will commence at 9:00am near the lion exhibit. Activities will include special keeper talks, bookable Eye to Eye lion encounters, craft activities and face painting.

Fact file:

  • Makeba and Uzuri arrived from Taronga Western Plains Zoo in 2018 as part of a coordinated breeding program to help save the species.

  • Perth Zoo is also home to an elderly lioness, Shinyanga, who turns 20 on 19 August, making it a double celebration for her.

  • World Lion Day activities commence at 9:00am Saturday 10 August.

  • Special lion keeper talks will be held at 12:30pm and 2:15pm.

  • Book an Eye to Eye encounter with the lions and venture into the lion’s den.