There are two new regal ladies at Riverbanks Zoo and they're quite popular already.  Here's Micah Rumsey with Mammal Curator John Davis to see how the lionesses are acclimating to their new habitat.

Micah: Welcome back to another edition of Wild Encounters. I'm here with John, the Curator of Mammals, and we're talking lions, one of everyone's favorite animals and we have two brand new lions here at Riverbanks Zoo. Tell us about them.

John: Yeah, we're real pleased to announce the arrival of our two new female lions. Their names are Lindelani and Thabisa. They're about two and a half years old. They've been adjusting and acclimating to their new exhibit and you can see they're doing really well.

Micah: And what does that process look like of getting them here to the zoo and then getting them comfortable with their environment?

John: You know, back in February, we had an unfortunate situation with the loss of our 16 year old female lion Brynn. Lions are very social and that left our 12 year old male Zuri alone. So we rallied quickly and contacted the species survival plan and they had an answer for us. We prepared the transfer and brought these animals all the way from a zoo in Texas. So after they arrived here, we're learning about them, they're learning about us, and we want to make sure we acclimate them slowly and carefully and move at their pace. But luckily, they're moving right along with us and you see they've adjusted very well.

Micah: And eventually, you do have that introduction of the two new females to the male. What does that process look like?

John: Yeah, that's another big step for us that we're preparing for. Now that the dust is settled, everybody's at home and comfortable with their surroundings, then we move to another big step in introducing the male to our two new females. It's a very fragile process. We move carefully. We start with just visual-olfactory where they can see and smell one another without touching and then we slowly move them carefully together but we always have a protective barrier in between just to make sure everybody is acting appropriately. Lions are, you know, vicious predators and if they become fearful and intimidated, it usually comes off as aggression. We want to make sure for the safety of everyone that we move at their pace to lead towards a safe introduction.

Micah: And right now, you have the females out during a certain time and the male out during a different time.

John: That's right. They rotate so everybody gets time on exhibit. The females, they're a big attraction. They're very active so we have them out mostly during the day and then the male lion, Zuri, he comes out at night.

Micah: Alright, so make sure you come down here to Riverbanks Zoo. Check out the two new lions. They're moving around right here behind us. I'm sure the morning probably a good time to come out and see them when they're out moving around, so come check them out here at Riverbanks Zoo.


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