August 10, 2019
By Erica Rymer, Events and Marketing Specialist
If you have visited your Akron Zoo recently, you have probably seen the new Landon and Cynthia Knight Pride of Africa area. But have you had the chance to get to know our new residents? Today is World Lion Day, so to celebrate, we are giving you an insider look into our five lion residents, their personalities, and their role in one of our two prides!
Tamarr, one of our male lions, came to us in 2007 from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs. He was born on August 25, 2005, making him the oldest of our five lions. He is the “king” of the smaller of our two prides, though his mate, Mandisa, is clearly in charge. Tamarr and Mandisa moved from their old habitat to Pride of Africa during renovations earlier this year.
Tamarr is a favorite of many zoo guests and employees because of his unique personality. He loves to pose for pictures on sunny days and show off his beautiful mane. When it rains, however, he can usually be found hiding under the sleeping platform or in the researchers tent. Like many of us, he does not like to get wet. His preferred enrichment are large rubber bins and barrels, especially his Rubbermaid garbage can.
Mandisa is the oldest of our female lions, having been born on July 19, 2008. She was born in Naples Zoo, Florida and came to the Akron Zoo in 2013 when Tamarr’s previous mate, Shani, was sent to the Naples Zoo based on breeding recommendations made by the African Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP). Mandisa weighs roughly 380 pounds (only about 20 pounds less than Tamarr).
Mandisa does not subscribe to the advice “don’t play with your food.” Her favorite holiday is Halloween because she is given pumpkins to pounce on and tear apart. Of course, as a carnivore, her actual diet consists of meat and bones, not gourds. Our lions are given meat five days a week, bones once a week, and rabbits once a week. On meat days, Mandisa gets roughly six pounds of meat while Tamarr can eat up to 12. Our lions are also fasted once a week to replicate the experience in their natural habitat on days that hunting was unsuccessful, known as “feast or famine.”
Donovan came to us from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium earlier this year and will soon make his public debut in Pride of Africa. He was born on August 20, 2015, and he will be the head of the larger (and younger) of our two prides. He is also the largest lion in our care, weighing in at just over 450 pounds. He enjoys mint extract and playing with kitty litter buckets.
Though Donovan has not yet been introduced to Akron Zoo visitors, he has already caught the public's eye. His “strong name” got the attention of Browns announcer Jim Donnovan, who came to the zoo to meet the lion in person and feature him in a story on WKYC. He is also the handsome face of Akron Zoo memberships.
Kataba and Msinga
Kataba and Msinga are two sisters from a litter of four born at the Philadelphia Zoo in 2014. Despite being quadruplets, their mother went into labor in the middle of the night, so Kataba was born late at night on June 25, while Msinga was not born until after midnight (so her birthday is June 26).
Kataba is the larger of the two sisters, weighing about 330 pounds. She is named Kataba after a city in Zambia. Msinga is named after a local municipality in South Africa. She weighs roughly 290 pounds. Of the two, Kataba is more adventurous and confident, while Msinga prefers to let her sister take the lead. The two are still in the introduction process with Donovan, and within the next few months the group of three will make their public debut as the larger of our two prides.
Lions are considered a vulnerable species by the IUCN, with populations dropping as much as 43% since the mid-90’s. This drop is caused by habitat loss, prey depletion and humans defending themselves and livestock. The Akron Zoo is currently partnering with Rebuilding the Pride to support people in the Southern Rift Valley of Africa, who live sustainably and peacefully coexist with wildlife such as lions. The hope is that this effort will reduce conflict between humans and lions and protect lion habitats.
To meet our lions or learn more about the Maasai Tribe of Africa, visit our Landon and Cynthia Knight Pride of Africa. Be sure that while you’re there you say hello to our unique and beautiful lions!