Taronga’s much-loved African Lion family has begun preparing for its move to a new home at Hunter Valley Zoo, so new big cat exhibits can be built.
Using their favourite foods as a form of positive reinforcement, keepers have begun training Jambo, Kuchani and Asali to enter their travel crates ahead of the journey north in mid-December.
Keepers are happy with their progress and confident the lions’ relaxed manner in training will translate to a smooth move to the Hunter Valley.
Known affectionately as ‘Bruiser’, male lion Jambo has won the hearts of many keepers and visitors since arriving at Taronga as a cub in 1999. His successful pairing with Kuchani led to the birth of two cubs, male Johari and female Asali, in 2003.
Johari has since moved to Werribee Open Range Zoo and welcomed his own cubs in October, while Asali has remained with her parents at Taronga.
The lions’ upcoming move follows the departure of Taronga’s Sumatran Tigers, which have moved temporarily to Taronga Western Plains Zoo during the construction of new big cat exhibits and breeding facilities that will enhance Taronga’s conservation breeding programs.
“While we’re sad to see the lions leave Sydney, we’re also excited about the new developments about to take place. The Sumatran Tiger experience is due to open in mid-2017 with a spacious new exhibit and a purpose-built maternity den that will allow us to enhance Taronga’s breeding program for this critically endangered species,” said Senior Carnivore Keeper, Justine Powell.
Taronga will also welcome a new lion breeding group when the rejuvenated African Habitat opens in a few years time.