The return of the lion — at Utah's Hogle Zoo's new African Savannah exhibit
It is a sexual dimorphism (difference between males and females). So you can tell the males from the females. Males have manes. The males are huge protectors and fight with each other, and manes can protect their necks. But also it is a very good indication to females how healthy they are. How valuable they are as mates.
No other big cats have that? - Zion, 11
Lions are the only cat that has a mane.
How thick does the male’s mane grow? - Ethan, 9
I couldn’t give you an answer, but you couldn’t get your fingers through it. It covers from the top of their head and will eventually go down the middle of their back. It also depends on nutrition. The better their diet, the longer and thicker the mane.
Do lions swim? - Clive, 5
They can; they aren’t fans. But there are specialized groups of lions that will hunt in the water.
Are they friends with the elephants? - Logan, 4
What is the fastest speed? - Ethan, 9
They can run at bursts up to 55 mph, but for a very short period of time. Cheetahs can run up to 70 mph and for a longer period of time.
Do male lions hunt or just the females? - Leif, 9
Males can hunt, but females do most of the hunting because they are smaller and more agile animals. The males are built more for fighting. Their job is so difficult in the wild — that constant protection of their territory — that the males will always eat first. They live half as long as females in the wild.
Do they need mates to survive? - Ellie, 11
To survive, males need females to feed them. They can survive on their own, but really the whole pride is what helps them.
Does the lion attack people from the zoo or try to? - Sydney, 7
Probably. These cats are extremely territorial. So if they have any indication that you are imposing on their territory, they will defend.
Why do people kill them? - Cleo, 8 and Allan, 6
It is a huge problem. Tribes have their livestock, and lions can take down their livestock or they will blame lions for killing their livestock. So to fix that they will kill the lions. They think of them as pests.
Some lion parts, like organs, are valuable. Also for a lot of tribes in Africa, it is a right of passage to kill a lion. At this point in time, lions in the north are extinct, and there are only five sustainable populations of lions in Africa.
Hogle Zoo works with an conservation organization, Niassa Carnivore Project, that promotes coexistence with lions in the wild. The organization is located in the Niassa National Reserve in Mozambique, Africa. For more information on the project and its accomplishments, visit niassalion.org.
Matelski and Schubert are the primary lion keepers. Matelski says she loves it at Hogle and has worked with lions for 10 years, first at a rescue facility in Arkansas and then at Memphis Zoo. Schubert previously worked with lions at the Wildlife Safari in Oregon for nearly six years.
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