Zoo staff carried out a major animal relocation today, moving three African Lions out of their birthplace, the historic Lion Park.
The three moves were managed by the Zoo’s Head Vet, Dr. Michael Lynch, and the Carnivore Department Manager, Adrian Howard, leading a large team of Veterinary Nurses, Keepers, and other staff who had volunteered to assist.
Zuri, Harare, and Chaka were moved one by one, and all three procedures went smoothly.
Dr Lynch darted the lions to sedate them so they could be moved safely.
The first procedure started shortly after 9am and by 2pm all three brothers were recovering in their night dens in their new location, in another part of the Carnivore Department’s facilities.
It’s expected that they will all recover fully overnight and be out on display some time tomorrow.
The reason for this major move is that the 1967 Lion Park will soon be demolished and replaced by a state-of-the-art new development.
Carnivore Precinct Manager Adrian Howard well remembers when the lions were born on the Millennium Eve, and he says that ‘This is a milestone moment in our journey of creating a new predator experience for our visitors.
‘The Lion Park represents one of the last old exhibits, and it’s exciting for us all to be involved in this major redevelopment.’
Zoo Director Kevin Tanner says that the existing Lion Park was considered to be very innovative when it opened in 1967.
‘It was one of the first exhibits anywhere to enclose people in the midst of the exhibit, as was done with the overhead bridge across the area.
‘Now almost 50 years later, it’s time to take advantage of new construction techniques and design experience to create the first phase of what will be the new Predator Precinct.
‘The project is being funded by a $5m State Government grant, and it will open to visitors next summer,’’ Mr. Tanner says.
The new development will display two African predator species in adjacent exhibits: Lions and Wild Dogs.
A third predator species, the Philippines Crocodile, will be displayed in the Predator Learning Centre, which will be used by school groups on weekdays during term time and by other visitors on weekends, public holidays, and school holidays.