Leaping lion laps up attention at Werribee Open Range Zoo

18 March 2021

In a single awe-inspiring bound, a Werribee Open Range Zoo lioness has impressively scaled a six-foot tall termite mound for a tasty treat, much to the delight of fascinated onlookers.

A series of photos of four-year-old Aziza’s athletic prowess show the lioness majestically launching herself up and over the mound, collecting a carefully placed piece of meat as reward for her efforts.

Zookeepers lay out an array of high-value food items in difficult to reach areas of the lion habitat to encourage the pride of six lionesses to interact with their environment in physically challenging and mentally stimulating ways.

African River Trail Keeper Christina Speckamp said the daily feeds are always an active affair for the pride.

“During every feed, the lions actively move their bodies and emulate the behaviours you would witness after they have hunted their prey in the wild. This includes natural territorial behaviours such as growling to ward any competitors away from their feed.”

Ms Speckamp said that wild lions had a very low hunting success rate of just 30 per cent, only feeding on average three or four days, so it was important to maintain a diet for the lionesses at the Zoo that aligned with their physiological needs.

“Today was a feed day, which followed a fast day,” she said. “We maintain regular fast periods at the Zoo to allow for sufficient time for digestion and to maintain the health and bodyweight of these precious animals.”

Lions are classified as vulnerable in the wild, with their species in decline as a result of hunting and habitat destruction. It’s estimated as few as 23,000 individuals remain in sub-Saharan Africa.

Anyone can support lion conservation through Zoos Victoria’s Beads for Wildlife program. The initiative supports the protection of the rangelands in Northern Kenya through the sale of handmade beadwork available through Zoos Victoria’s website.

The lions at Werribee Open Range Zoo form part of a regional breeding program that aims to maintain a genetically diverse population of the species in the fight against extinction.

Zoo members and visitors are reminded that all tickets to the Zoo must be pre-booked at zoo.org.au and asked to follow the current COVIDSafe directions at www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus