New lion pride roars to life at Werribee Open Range Zoo

25 March 2022

The deep rumblings of a new king are sweeping over Werribee Open Range Zoo this week following the arrival of a distinctively vocal lion.

The five-year-old male, named Sheru [pronounced: Sher-oo] which means ‘lion’ in Hindi, safely arrived from the new Sydney Zoo in Western Sydney on Wednesday evening and is settling into his new habitat on Werribee Open Range Zoo’s African River Trail. 

Sheru joins two female lionesses, Nilo and Asali, at an ideal age to assume the natural hierarchy role of pride male to establish and lead his own family pride.  

Sheru is easily distinguished from the females by his impressive golden mane, but it is his loud vocalisations, which are particularly frequent during rainfall, that are expected to generate the most interest among visitors during Melbourne’s forthcoming wet season. 

Acting African River Trail Life Science Manager, Ben Gulli, said Sheru’s arrival marks a new era for lion conservation at Werribee Open Range Zoo 

“It’s very exciting to have Sheru join the lion pride and establish a new breeding group here,” Mr Gulli said.  

“Werribee Open Range Zoo has been the home to three litters of lion cubs during the past seven years and we hope we can continue to support the conservation of this precious species in years to come.  

“Sheru has settled in seamlessly and we can’t wait to see his confident and curious nature shine through over the coming days.”  

Sheru will spend one month in quarantine, however Zoo visitors can see him inquisitively exploring the back area of the lion habitat. Introductions to the lionesses will commence in the coming weeks.     

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. The lions at Werribee Open Range Zoo form part of an international and regional breeding program to maintain a genetically diverse pride that can support conservation of wild lion populations.