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King of the Savannah: An Intimate Look Into the Lives of Lions at Riverbanks Zoo

Lions bonding in zoo

King of the Savannah: An Intimate Look Into the Lives of Lions at Riverbanks Zoo

For over 50 years, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden has brought delight to visitors, showcasing a rich array of animal species. The lions, in particular, have become a much-anticipated encounter for first-time and seasoned visitors alike. Despite being one of the most iconic wildlife species, there are still misconceptions and little-known facts about these magnificent creatures.

Lions: Not Just ‘Kings of the Jungle’

Lions, primarily known as ‘Kings of the Jungle’, surprisingly, are not jungle dwellers. They possess might, speed, and agility which qualify them as fierce predators living within the savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa. These majestic creatures are also found outside of Africa, specifically in Gir National Park in the Indian state of Gujarat, albeit in highly endangered numbers.

Understanding the Lions’ Social Structure

Lions are unique among the feline family for their highly social structure. Forming prides of up to 12 females and three males, these prides hunt collectively, usually with females taking the lead. Fascinatingly, males and females exhibit distinct differences in appearance – a phenomenon known as sexual dimorphism.

Decreasing Lion Population

Today, we see a tragic decline in the number of lions prevalent in previous centuries. A recent study from September 2023 revealed that Africa’s wild lion population might number between 20,000 and 25,000 only. The extensive decrease from an estimated population of 200,000 just after World War I is an alarming concern for conservationists worldwide.

Riverbanks Zoo’s Contribution to Lion Conservation

In the efforts of preserving this majestic species, a strategic plan called the Species Survival Plan has been implemented in various zoos. An exciting example is the successful breeding efforts by Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, home to a 20-year-old male lion, Zuri, and two 9-year-old sisters, Lindelani and Thabisa. Their offspring, born in 2018, now live in accredited zoos elsewhere and have started producing their own young.

On-site Care and Maintenance

At Riverbanks Zoo, the lions’ enriching environment includes stimulating physical and mental activities, particularly scent-marking enrichment techniques that involve the usage of perfume sprayed around their exhibit. The zoo’s efforts to control breeding and maintain a stable population include the administration of birth control to the resident lions.

Preserving the Legacy of Lions

Cognitive of human fascination towards these charismatic creatures, caution is vital in preserving their presence for future generations. Conservationists anticipate that humankind’s care would extend far enough to save this admirable species from extinction, ensuring that the roar of the lion continues to reverberate throughout the savannahs for eons to come.


King of the Savannah: An Intimate Look Into the Lives of Lions at Riverbanks Zoo

HERE Irmo
Author: HERE Irmo

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