Werribee Open Range Zoo


Visiting the lions at Werribee Open Range Zoo provides a rare opportunity to see these majestic animals up close. See why the lion is known as the ‘king of the savannah’ and learn about what threatens these magnificent creatures in the wild.

Lions once ranged throughout northern Africa, south-west Asia, Europe and India. Their range is now reduced to sub Saharan Africa, with an isolated sub species in the Gir Forest of India. Numbers are rapidly decreasing due to many factors including habitat destruction, which leads to a loss of prey and also puts lions in close contact with humans. One of the biggest threats to the lion population is retribution killing from farmers trying to protect their livestock. Sadly a number of countries permit trophy hunting of lions, a practice that is justified as enabling conservation. Lions are also vulnerable to disease.

It is not known how many lions remain in the wild in Africa: recent estimates have ranged from around 16,500 to 30,000 animals. . As of 2008 Lions have been classed as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (on the IUCN ‘red list’). 

An adult male lion stands just over a metre tall at the shoulder, is over three metres long (including his  tail) and on average weighs about 220kg. Females are considerably smaller. Cubs have spotted fur, and sometimes a few spots remain into adulthood on the legs and belly. Adult male lions are noted for their brown mane, which becomes darker and fuller as the animal matures and becomes stronger.

Lions are the only cats to live in a family group, which is called a pride which can have up to 30–40 members. The pride is usually dominated by a single male or a coalition and mostly related females and their cubs. On average, the length of time in control of a pride is 2–3 years and competition among males to take over a pride can be ferocious!

Lions are carnivorous and hunt a variety of prey including zebra, wildebeest, impala, buffalo and warthog. The females of the pride hunt as a team using an ambush method. 

Meet the animals


Born 1996

Tonyi and his brother Tombo were born at Philadelphia Zoo in 1996. They came to Werribee Open Range Zoo in 2004 via Auckland Zoo. Tonyi is identified by his round forehead and furrowed brow. He is darker than his brother and has a small mohawk. 


Born 1996

Tombo is lighter in colour than his brother Tonyi. The two brothers are very close and can often be seen hanging out together, snoozing in the sun or keeping warm in their cubby. 


Born 2000

Jarrah was born at Melbourne Zoo in 2000 before moving to Werribee Open Range Zoo when the new lion exhibit was opened in 2004. Just like most cats, Jarrah loves to snooze but she is also very playful. She gets along well with brothers Tombo and Tonyi. 


Born 2004

Johari arrived at Werribee Open Range Zoo from Sydney’s Taronga Zoo in 2012. Johari is a deeper thinker. He’s curious but cautious. He takes a lot in and really enjoys new smells and other kinds of enrichment.



Born 2012

Nilo is very curious and takes her time to process new things. She grew up in a pride with Niribi and the two are very close. The name Nilo is inspired by the Samburu people who live in the Melako conservancy of Northern Kenya.


Born 2012

Niribi is very food-focused and particularly enjoys the enrichment items that keepers prepare. The name Niribi is a Rendille word and it is the name of a community within Melako that is very active in our Beads for Wildlife program.

Lion Johari and Lioness Nilo

Meet our new lion pride

Lionesses Nilo and Nairibi have formed a new pride with male lion Johari at Werribee Open Range Zoo.

Following a gradual introduction process, the group are now living permanently together and can be seen by visitors in the Zoo’s Lions on the Edge exhibit.

25 June 2015
Lion Johari with Nilo and Niribi

The beginnings of a new pride

Over the last month, lionesses Nilo and Niribi have been spending time with male Lion Johari at Werribee Open Range Zoo, as the introduction process continues to progress.

27 May 2015
Slumber Safari - couple

Slumber Safari

Enjoy an overnight experience at the Zoo in our luxury safari camp. Your stay includes amazing close-up animal encounters, drinks and dips at sunset, a sumptuous dinner, unique night-time activities and breakfast overlooking Australian Journey. 

Did you know?
  • Males eat first even though they generally do not participate in the hunt. Females eat next, followed by the cubs
  • Only one in five lion cubs survives its first year. When food is scarce, feeding is in order of age and size, and the youngest and weakest do not survive
  • A lion’s roar can be heard up to 8km away! Up close, the grass flattens in the impact of a roar
  • A subspecies of lion, the Asiatic Lion, was once found all through India, the Middle East and Southern Asia, but now fewer than 300 survive in the Gir Forest National Park in western India