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Meet Nilo and Niribi

13 August 2014

In this month’s special animal profile edition, we chat to Keeper Katherine Quinn about Nilo and Niribi, Werribee Open Range Zoo’s two African Lionesses who arrived from Givskud Zoo, Denmark earlier this year.

Prior to their arrival at Werribee, Keeper Katherine spent two weeks at Givskud Zoo getting to know the lionesses to help ease their transition to Australia.

Nilo and Niribi are both two and half years of age and although Niribi is a month older, Nilo is very much the leader of the two.

Both the girls’ names have been inspired by Zoos Victoria’s Beads for Wildlife and Kicking Goals for Wildlife programs. Niribi is a Rendille word and is the name of a community within Melako that is very active in both programs.

The Niribi community are the storytellers of Melako and the keepers of the fables about wildlife and people.

Niribi is very food-focused and particularly enjoys the enrichment items that keepers prepare, often taking them over to her own area to play with.

The name Nilo is inspired by the Samburu people who also live in Melako.

Nilo is the thinker of the two, always curious about what’s happening around her. She takes her time to process new things and sometimes looks to the keepers for assurance, but once she’s comfortable she’s quite confident.

Niribi and Nilo grew up together and get along well. Niribi is heavier than Nilo and has a black nose, while Nilo has a fine face and still has a pink nose. Both lionesses have begun protected visual contact with male Johari and so far all is going well, with the lions very curious about one another and happy to lie in each other’s company.

Lions are under threat in the wild as the result of habitat loss, dwindling food sources and poaching, particularly in response to loss of livestock. It’s difficult to determine how many lions are left in the wild but they are now classed as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (on the IUCN ‘red list’).

While no date has been set as to when the girls will make their public debut, be sure to check Zoos Victoria's Facebook and Twitter pages for the latest updates.