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Melbourne Zoo's lion brothers fly the coop
On Wednesday, Melbourne Zoo transferred three of its most handsome animals - lion siblings Kashka, Kubwa and Kito - to their new home at Monarto Open Range Zoo in South Australia.
The trio, born at Werribee Open Range Zoo in 2015, join a pride of nine lions at Monarto, including seven lionesses. As very important breeding males, they will contribute their valuable genes to the regional breeding program, which plays a critical part in protecting the species from extinction.
Melbourne Zoo Director Kevin Tanner said the boys would be missed, but the carnivore team were now busy preparing Lion Gorge for the arrival of two new lion brothers.
“Although Kashka, Kubwa and Kito had only been under our care for a relatively short time, having arrived just last year from Werribee, they had become firm favourites with visitors, members, staff and their keepers,” Mr Tanner said. “However, we hope the boys will build a healthy and genetically viable pride of lions at Monarto.
“We are now looking forward to welcoming two new residents from Werribee - lion cub brothers Zuberi and Ndidi – who will be settled into their new residence in time for Christmas visitors to meet them.”
Zuberi and Ndidi turn two years of age on December 13 – an age where a lion would naturally move away from their family pride in the wild into a bachelor group.
Both Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo have a proud history of caring for African lions, stretching back as far as 100 years in the case of Melbourne Zoo.
“Both the Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo carnivore teams have spent many months crate training both groups of lions in preparation for their transportation,” Mr Tanner said. “This approach of giving animals choice means they are calmly loaded and unloaded, ensuring both animal welfare and safety.”
While Lions are top-order predators, hunting and habitat loss have seen wild populations of this majestic feline drop to vulnerable status, with only about 30,000 left in sub-Saharan Africa.
One of the biggest threats to the lion population is retribution killing from farmers trying to protect their livestock. Zoos Victoria’s Beads for Wildlife provides women in Northern Kenya with the choice of a reliable income that doesn't impact local wildlife, including lions. Beads for Wildlife pieces are available to purchase at Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Open Range Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary.
Visitors can see top-order predators in one precinct along Melbourne Zoo’s Carnivore Trail, including snow leopards, South American coati, Sumatran tiger and Tasmanian Devil.
Zoos Victoria’s three properties – Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Open Range Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary are open 9am to 5pm, seven days a week, all year long.