Fun learning activities in store for the whole pride
The king of the beasts will be the center of attention on Saturday, August 10, as the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) celebrates World Lion Day at the Detroit Zoo. Fun learning activities and zookeeper talks at the lion habitat will showcase lions, inform guests about the alarming decline of lions in the wild in Africa and Asia, and include stories of the lions who have found sanctuary at the Zoo.
“The Detroit Zoological Society has a long history of helping to save declining species in nature and also of providing sanctuary to exotic animals in need of rescue, including African lions Erin and Simba,” said Scott Carter, DZS chief life sciences officer. “This event allows us to celebrate these remarkable animals while sharing important information about the dangers facing lions in nature as well as those who are victims of the exotic pet trade.”
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The Detroit Zoo is home to Erin, an 18-year-old lioness rescued from a junkyard in Kansas in 2009, and Simba, a 10-year-old lion once owned by the royal family of Qatar. Simba found sanctuary at the Detroit Zoo in 2012 after the family realized they were unable to care for the dangerous animal. These rescued lions were joined in May by 3-year-old sisters Asha and Amirah who arrived from another accredited zoo as part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Lion Species Survival Plan. The DZS is a partner in the AZA’s Lion SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) conservation program.
“People who keep exotic animals as pets often do not understand the specialized care required to meet their physical and psychological needs and the risks to human safety that animals like lions present,” Carter said. “These animals suffer as a result of poor care and obviously pose a deadly threat to those around them.”
Zookeeper talks on World Lion Day will be held at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., sharing fun facts about the species. Educational elements will focus on the stories of Erin and Simba and the importance of making appropriate pet choices. Hands-on activities will include opportunities for guests to examine lion claws and teeth.
Fewer than 20,000 lions exist in sub-Saharan Africa and a small isolated population in western India. Lions formerly ranged throughout Africa and parts of Europe. They are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to poaching, habitat degradation and a decrease in prey populations.
The Detroit Zoological Society – a renowned leader in humane education, wildlife conservation, animal welfare and environmental sustainability – operates the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center. With an annual regional economic impact of more than $167 million, the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak is one of Michigan’s largest paid family attractions, hosting more than 1.3 million visitors annually. Its 125 acres of award-winning naturalistic habitats are home to 2,400 animals representing 235 species. The Belle Isle Nature Center sits on a 5-acre site surrounded by undisturbed forested wetlands on Belle Isle State Park in Detroit. It provides year-round educational, recreational and environmental conservation opportunities for the community. For hours, prices, directions and other information, call (248) 541-5717 or visit detroitzoo.org.