Lion splashing in the water while playing with a large enrichment ball. Another lion watches from the side of the pond.

Fun toys and water play for World Lion Day

09 August 2019

Melbourne Zoo’s African Lions have been splashing about with one of their favourite toys in the lead up to World Lion Day on Saturday August 10th.

Two-year-old brothers Zuberi and Ndidi love playing with their giant enrichment ball. However, whilst playing on land has proven to be a lot of fun for the energetic big cats, they decided that taking the ball to water would prove even more entertaining.

The duo weren't afraid to get their golden coats wet, so cleverly used their paws to grip and spin the jumbo-sized object around rapidly in the water, much to their curiosity and delight.

Melbourne Zoo Carnivores and Ungulates Precinct Coordinator Luke Hausler said the enrichment ball is among the strategies keepers use to stimulate play with the lions and encourage natural behaviours.

“The lions love to push the ball around, chase it, grab at it and put different smells and scents on it,” Mr Hausler said.

“It’s really important to facilitate play like this for these two-year-old lions as it helps them develop their social-development skills. They’re also very energetic and need to burn off a lot of energy.”

“Over the past 25 years there has been a 50 per cent decline of the species as a result of habitat destruction and hunting. Lions are now classified as vulnerable, with as few as 23,000 estimated individuals remaining in sub-Saharan Africa."

Mr Hausler said that celebrating World Lion Day served a very important purpose.

“Over the past 25 years there has been a 50 per cent decline of the species as a result of habitat destruction and hunting,” he said. “Lions are now classified as vulnerable, with as few as 23,000 estimated individuals remaining in sub-Saharan Africa.

“So we celebrate World Lion Day to generate awareness about the plight of this incredible species and hope to inspire people to get involved in conservation.”

You can help Zoos Victoria conserve the wild lion population by purchasing Beads for Wildlife products from Melbourne Zoo or via its website, or by making a donation at zoo.org.au/donate.

The Lions at Melbourne Zoo are part of regional breeding programs that aim to maintain a genetically-diverse population of the species in the fight against extinction.

Visitors can see Melbourne Zoo’s lions, Zuberi and Ndidi, up close for World Lion Day tomorrow or any day other day of the year from 9am-5pm, seven days a week.