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Lion clubs early Christmas present for zoo

24 December 2004

New lion clubs early Christmas present for Wellington Zoo

Wellington Zoo has had an early Christmas present in the form of two African lion cubs, which went on public display for the first time yesterday.

The male cubs – 9-month-old Zulu and 8-month-old Malik – were born in Auckland Zoo and join the Zoo’s other male lion (Sam) and three lionesses (Djane, Djembe and Zhara).

They arrived from Auckland on 8 December and have spent the past couple of weeks in quarantine adjusting to their new home.

Lion Keeper Paul Horton says the cubs have quickly settled in and have been keenly exploring their new outside environment.

“They have gradually been getting used to the new sights and smells in the enclosure and today we let them out for the first time to explore their new home. Malik wandered out straight away, while Zulu was a little more tentative. But they were soon both out running around and chasing each other in play.”

While the cubs have been introduced to their new home, it’ll be some time before they meet their enclosure-mates in person. The cubs have met Sam, Djane, Djembe and Zhara through the bars of adjoining cages, but it will be a gradual process of introduction before they can join them in the one enclosure.

“They need time to get used to each other, so the cubs will be kept separate from the others for now and will be out in the enclosure for public viewing in short bursts at various times of the day.”

Mauritz Basson, Manager, Life Sciences says it’s hoped that the cubs may in future breed as part of the Australasian Species Management Programme (ASMP).

“Sub-Saharan African lions are not yet threatened in the wild but several northern subspecies are now endangered.”

Visitors to the Zoo can look forward to watching the new cubs enjoy the Summer evenings next week when the Zoo opens late for Wild Summer Nights.

From Boxing Day until New Years Eve, the Zoo will be open until 8pm allowing people to see the animals get their evening meal, watch as some of them enjoy the most active part of their day and listen to a range of informative Keeper talks.

As an added bonus, the first six families through the gate after 4pm each night next week will win a family pass for four to a special advance screening of the hot new movie Racing Stripes – a film about a Zebra who doesn’t realise he’s not quite a horse – in cinemas January 6th.


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