Wednesday, 11 January 2012

One of our male lions, Malik, has gained media attention around the world after the clip below went viral.

Three year old Sofia experienced a pretty close encounter through the glass at the viewing cave, which allows visitors a glimpse into just a portion of the lion’s exhibit. 

This behaviour is normal for a lion - they do tend to get very protective of their food which is why we feed our five lions separately from each other.  The way Malik reacted to Sofia is a healthy reaction that lions in the wild would display.  He was not displaying overt aggression towards Sophia – he was ‘politely’ telling her to go away.  Luckily, we have a really lovely large exhibit for them, so rest assured that if Malik didn't want to be near the visitors, he could easily take his food somewhere else. There are areas where the lions can go to be out of the view of visitors if they choose. 

Lions in the wild (and at the Zoo) typically sleep for a large portion of the day, as all cats do, and can often be seen lying on the rocks in their exhibit looking out over Newtown.  Our zoo keepers place a strong emphasis on enriching the lives of all animals here at the Zoo, through various mental and physical stimuli. Lions are social creatures, so they gain a lot of enrichment opportunities from visitor and keeper interaction.  Keepers also provide food enrichment, which involves making their food difficult to access, so that the lions have to seek it out as they would in the wild. 

We also train our lions in preparation for medical procedures and for general health checks which stimulates their brain and builds rapport with their keepers. This training makes caring for them so much easier and less stressful for the animals, our vets and for the keepers.

Pictures of our lion exhibit can be found here.