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Happy Birthday Tonyi and Tombo!

14 March 2014

Lions Tonyi and Tombo turned 18 yesterday, Monday 17 March.

The brothers enjoyed some early festivities at Werribee Open Range Zoo, with a special treat prepared by Keepers and the Zoo's wonderful team of volunteers.

The brothers generously shared their presents with lioness Jarrah and all three enjoyed playing with the brightly painted boxes which were smeared in one of their favourite scents – a mix of rhino poo and fennel.

After thoroughly exploring their presents, the boys then settled in for a post-birthday nap.

Like most big cats, they have an incredible sense of smell and as part of their enrichment program we provide them with a scatter of strong herbs and spices, pine tree branches, old animal bedding and their favourite of course – rhino poo

The brothers are very close and can generally be found together snoozing in the sun.

They have a really lovely relationship. While Tonyi is the head of the pride he is very relaxed and gentle with his brother who is his second in command.

Tonyi and Tombo were born in Philadelphia Zoo in 1996 and also spent time at Auckland Zoo before moving to Werribee Open Range Zoo ten years ago.

Sadly lions in the wild are under threat, with an estimated 30% decline in population during the last two decades.

They are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (on the IUCN ‘red list’) and their survival is very much linked to that of prey species which are also under threat as result of human contact.