Three young African Lions will soon be making the short trip from Werribee to Melbourne.
Melbourne Zoo Director Kevin Tanner says that the trio born at Werribee Open Range Zoo in October 2015 will arrive at Melbourne Zoo later this year, with the date to be announced as soon as it is finalised.
Kashka, Kubwa, and Kito will be moving into Lion Gorge, previously home to the three elderly lion brothers that passed away this summer.
Mr. Tanner explains that ‘Harare, Chaka and Zuri were born here and spent their entire lives with us, and they are much missed. This species is managed on a regional basis, so in our search for lions we have consulted with other zoos displaying lions to find the best option for the needs of individuals and prides within the zoo network.
‘We are fortunate that the Werribee Open Range Zoo trio are close to the age when they would naturally move away from their family group, as would happen in the wild.’
Over the next several months, the adolescents will spend longer periods of time away from the family group, establish relationships with new Keepers, and prepare for the move itself, as they become confident in moving in and out of transport crates.
While the trio continue to mature and prepare for this next stage of their development, Lion Gorge will be home to the four African Wild Dogs already living nearby.
‘We are currently expanding their exhibit, which is right next to the lion exhibit, so the four Wild Dog brothers will be spending the next few months in Lion Gorge while the construction work on that section of the new Leopard Ridge development is under way.
‘Once the Wild Dogs return to their expanded exhibit, new arrivals Kito, Kashka and Kubwa will move into Lion Gorge,’ Mr. Tanner explains.
He adds that ‘in the meantime the adolescent lions will also benefit from spending time getting to know the four young cubs recently born at Werribee Open Range Zoo. This will give them some great experience in learning to live with younger pride mates.
‘Their move to Melbourne Zoo will be the first step for them within the regional breeding program for this vulnerable species, as they are likely to move on to other zoos over the next few years as breeding males with their own pride, or alternatively to form male coalitions.’
Mr. Tanner adds that before the adolescent males arrive from Werribee there will be some modifications to Lion Gorge, adding climbing structures and other features to cater for their youthful energy and more active and playful behaviours.