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Werribee Open Range Zoo

Werribee Open Range Zoo’s oldest male lion passes away

27 February 2019

The oldest male lion at Werribee Open Range Zoo - 15-year-old Johari - has passed away.

The majestic male and father of 11 died on Wednesday (27 February) while under general anesthetic for an examination to investigate the cause of his recent lethargy and anemia.

A necropsy (animal autopsy) to be conducted in the next 24 hours will confirm cause of death, however Johari’s condition over the past two weeks suggest his passing is age-related.

An independent peer review process will be conducted over the coming months, in addition to the necropsy.

Werribee Open Range Zoo director Glen Holland said Johari’s passing was a sad event for all who knew him.

“Saying goodbye to an older animal is part of life, nonetheless there are many heavy hearts at Werribee today,” Mr Holland said.    

“Johari was an iconic leader of the Werribee pride and he will be remembered as an impressive and regal patriarch. He caught the hearts of thousands of visitors, and we know so many of our visitors and members will have wonderful memories to reflect on.

“He leaves a legacy of 11 cubs, some of which will continue to contribute to the future of this species through our regional breeding program.”

While Lions are top-order predators, hunting and habitat loss has seen wild populations of this feline drop to vulnerable status, with only up to 30,000 left in sub-Saharan Africa.     

Born in August 2003, Johari arrived at Werribee Open Range Zoo from Taronga Zoo in 2012.

He sired all of the lion cubs ever born at Werribee Open Range Zoo, a total of 11 cubs from three litters:

  • 2015 litter: three males (Kubwa, Kito and Kashka) who now reside at Monarto Open Range Zoo in South Australia
  • 2016 litter: two males (Zuberi, Ndidi) who now reside at Melbourne Zoo, and two females (Kibibi, Aziza) who reside at Werribee
  • 2017 litter: two males (Lwazi, Ato) and two females (Ilola, Asali) who reside at Werribee.

Vale, Johari.