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Zoo's new boys will be mane attraction @ Lion Hill

MEDIA RELEASE

25 June 2003


Zoo's new “boys” will be mane attraction at Lion Hill


They may be only a year old, but Auckland Zoo's new male lions Lazarus and Ngala both already weigh in at the size of your average All Black.

And after a month in quarantine (a legal requirement), these two handsome South African “boys” are showing all signs of wanting to expend some All-Black-sized energy.

Today’s move out into the lion hill enclosure in Pridelands will allow them to do just that. The pair will have this outdoor area to themselves, so that they can quietly familiarise themselves with their new environment.

The rest of the pride - females Sheeka, Kura and Kura's two-year old daughter Amira, will gradually be introduced to these newcomers who can expect a bit of roughing up from their older and more worldy-wise female mates. The females have already shared their home with males Tombi and Tonyi, who in February were relocated to Melbourne Zoo to contribute to the lion breeding programme there. Sheeka and Kura both gave birth to cubs in 2001, who have all, apart from Amira, been moved to other zoos within the region.

"Our females are naturally going to react to any newcomers onto their territory, but in time it's going to be the males who'll dominate the pride," says Auckland Zoo's life sciences manager and acting-director Glen Holland.

Holland, who visited the two cubs at Cango Wildlife Ranch in Oudtshoorn last December, while holidaying in his homeland South Africa, says the Australasian region is extremely fortunate to have these two young males, which have come from such great bloodlines.

While both have been hand-reared at Cango Wildlife Ranch, one is of wild-origin from the Kalahari Desert in north-western South Africa, and the other, from parents from Eastern Transvaal outside Kruger National Park.

"We’ve already had requests within the Australasian region for potential off-spring,” says Holland, who says there is every likelihood that cubs could be
born here within the next year. It would be a couple of years before any new cubs were relocated to other zoos.

Pridelands team leader Michael Batty says Lazarus (104kg) and Ngala (96kg) are both in great health, with each having just one baby tooth left to drop out,
and both already showing the very early beginnings of a mane.

Ends

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