The African Lion, Lazarus, who arrived at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in November 2012, recently made his debut on exhibit. Lazarus, an 11 year old male, was quite timid and shy when he first arrived at the Zoo. Over time, and once he became familiar with his new surroundings and keepers, he started to grow in confidence.
Lazarus has now settled in to his new home and is very responsive to his keepers, especially when food is involved. Lazarus came to Taronga Western Plains Zoo from Auckland Zoo to commence a breeding program with a female lioness. Prior to the planned introduction, keepers gave the pair visual and fence contact to ensure their behaviours were positive and receptive towards each other. Following weeks of keepers seeing the pair display all the correct behaviours towards one another, the pair was introduced and showed every evidence of getting along well.
Unfortunately, a week later and without warning, an altercation occurred between the two and the female suffered injuries to her airway. Despite rapid intervention by staff and veterinary attention, the lioness subsequently died. Interactions between unrelated carnivores are known to be fraught with danger and can lead to injury or death in the wild, however staff were understandably very much saddened by what had occurred.
The Zoo is currently in the process of looking to find another lioness for Lazarus, but in the meantime he is investigating his surroundings and will be rotated on exhibit with the Zoo’s resident African Lions Njeri and Jasiri.