A new step in lion conservation at Audubon Zoo.
The lion population in the wild has dwindled to around 20,000 animals.
Audubon Zoo is taking a step to reverse this decline with the anticipated opening of its new lion habitat, scheduled for Saturday, May 18, 2019.
Working with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan for lions, Audubon recently welcomed four lions with the hope of successful breeding. Nia, Kali, Zuri, and Arnold were chosen to form the Audubon pride based on the best genetic and behavioral matches available to help bolster the lion population in human care. Arnold, who came to Audubon from Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon, arrived in February and females Nia, Kali, and Zuri, who came from the Peoria Zoo in Peoria, Illinois, arrived in March. These four animals are a subspecies of lion found in southern and eastern Africa. They are an AZA SAFE species and considered “Threatened”.
The new lion habitat is located in Audubon Zoo’s popular African Savanna exhibit, which opened in the 1980s. The exhibit’s focal point is a replica of an abandoned 1920s-era train station — a symbol of the transportation system that once spanned lion country and, tragically, opened the door to habitat loss, poaching, and the devastation of Africa’s vast natural resources. Mock train cars have been repurposed into conservation and research stations where Zoo staff will offer animal care and education demonstrations. The habitat design offers panoramic vistas along with places for up-close views of the majestic animals.
Lions are now classified from threatened to critically endangered.
Audubon Zoo's spacious lion habitat is home to a pride of lions that are part of AZA's Species Survival Plan® to save endangered species from extinction. Visitors can take pride in knowing that they are helping protect these one-of-a-kind animals.
In addition, Audubon Nature Institute, along with fellow AZA institutions, is partnering with organizations in Africa to mitigate conflict between farmers and lions, increase monitoring of the lion population’s numbers and distribution, and address habitat loss. Visitors may round their purchase amount up at the register at any Audubon retail location to donate to "Lagniappe for Lions," in support of conservation efforts for Ruaha Carnivore Project.