Two African lions have joined the pride at the Detroit Zoo.
African lions Asha and Amirah, 3-year-old sisters from the Buffalo Zoo, have joined “mane” man Simba, 10, in the African Grasslands at the Detroit Zoo. The lionesses come with a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Program (SSP).
SSPs are cooperative management plans to ensure genetically healthy, diverse and self-sustaining populations of threatened and endangered species in AZA-accredited zoos.
“Asha and Amirah are settling in well in their new home. They are being slowly introduced to Simba, who seems excited about the new additions to his pride,” said Scott Carter, chief life sciences officer for the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS). “This summer, Zoo visitors will be able to watch them hanging out together, and we are hopeful the pride will grow even larger with the addition of cubs in the next year or so.”
Lions are the only species of big cat to live in a social group that includes adult males and their offspring.
Simba was once owned by the royal family of Qatar and found sanctuary at the Detroit Zoo in 2013. The lion habitat is also home to female Erin, estimated to be about 18 years old, who was rescued from a junkyard in Kansas in 2009. The average lifespan for lions is 17 years.
Detroit Zoo visitors can see the lions year-round in their 9,600-square-foot habitat, which features a 17-foot-tall acrylic wall for a close-up view of the charismatic felines. Warming rocks near the front of the habitat provide the big cats a toasty perch for people-watching in cooler weather.