By Sarah McClain, Communications Intern
Did you know your Akron Zoo is now home to two lion prides? Many of you have met our beautiful African lions Tamarr and Mandisa, but we have some new faces coming to the Landon and Cynthia Knight Pride of Africa lion habitat! We have a brand new pride centered around Donovan, a four-year-old male who came here from the Columbus Zoo. Alongside him are two females, Msinga and Kataba, who are five-year-old sisters from the Philadelphia Zoo.
With the new pride comes all sorts of fun and thrilling challenges. We are currently in the midst of introducing the members of the new pride, which is a slow but exciting process. Since their arrival, Donovan has been swapping items with his scent with his female companions. Soon they will finally be able to interact. Eric Albers, animal curator with the Akron Zoo, stated: “introducing the lions can take anywhere from two to three weeks to up to a year or more; it completely depends on the cats.” So far things have been going extremely well and we are looking forward to having the new pride assembled. While Tamarr and Mandisa will be the only lions in the public viewing habitat for a while, eventually we will start rotating the two prides for visitors to see.
Moving a lion is no small feat, and this is where our incredible animal care staff comes in. Safety is of the utmost importance for your Akron Zoo. We require two team members to shift anyanimal as each gate has two locks and each staff member only has one key to prevent accidents from happening. The lions have their own space and will never be in the same area as the staff. We will base how often they are rotated into the habitat on how the lions act while shifting from one space to another space.The new Pride of Africa exhibit allows for both prides of lions to be outside at the same time with one being in the habitat and the other pride being in a private outdoor area. The new habitat is four times larger than the previous one with better enrichment and terrain such as heated rocks in the winter. Another great thing about having two prides is the potential to have cubs in the future. Msinga and Kataba were chosen for Donovan due to their genetic match for breeding. While we don’t currently have a breeding recommendation, it can always change in the future and we are ready for it.
We are beyond thrilled to have our newest pride joining the zoo. If you would like to come visit our African lions, stop by the Pride of Africa area of your Akron Zoo today!