Please join Oakland Zoo in celebrating Lion Appreciation Day on Saturday, August 6th. We will be hosting a slew of activities and events for all visitors to enjoy. In Flamingo Plaza, make sure to visit our Action for Wildlife table where you can learn more about American Mountain Lions and African Lions and enter a raffle. Spread the word and spread the love at the selfie station – you can take a photo with our lion-themed props and then share on social media. #ozlionappreciation Kids can participate in face painting, the opportunity to compare their hand print to a lion paw print, and stamp a lion-centric “passport” for their visit around the zoo.
We are also featuring two fabulous conservation partners at this year’s Lion Appreciation Day. Flamingo Plaza features Uganda Carnivore Program and Bay Area Puma Project. Uganda Carnivore Program is dedicated to the conservation and research of three large carnivores – lions, hyenas, and leopards. Bay Area Puma Project has a similar mission that focuses on local Mountain Lions. If you can’t make it down to Oakland Zoo for Lion Appreciation Day on August 6th, you can still learn all about these conservation partners and how you can help their mission on our website: http://www.oaklandzoo.org/Conservation.php
This is an extra special Lion Appreciation Day because Oakland Zoo is also celebrating the arrival of three new Southeast African lions to our Simba Pori exhibit. Be sure to come by Simba Pori to see Mandla, Tandie, and Gandia – three brothers nearly 21 months old. These males were born at Woodland Park Zoo in October 2014. They are nearly 300 pounds already and just starting to grow in their iconic manes. Adolescent male lions in the wild venture out on their own by 2 years of age to form coalitions that will hunt and live cooperatively. Mandla, Tandie, and Gandia will live together as a coalition – playing together, resting together, and eating together.
We also can’t forget to appreciate our 16 year old senior lion, Leonard. There are no plans to introduce Leonard to Mandla, Tandie, and Gandia. Lion introductions are extremely stressful and risky. Given Leonard’s age and the new boys’ youthful nature, Leonard will be more comfortable having his own space. To manage these two groups, we will rotate Leonard and the coalition between the exhibit space and an off-exhibit space. Some days Leonard will be on exhibit, and other days Mandla, Tandie, and Gandia will be on exhibit. Be sure to come by the main viewing deck of Simba Pori at 1pm on Lion Appreciation Day for the keeper talk highlighting our 4 magnificent male lions.
There are many reasons to appreciate American and African lions. Lions on both continents are apex predators, and as such, they are essential to the health of their respective ecosystems. The history of the eradication of the apex predator from the Yellowstone area, the wolf, should be a cautionary tale to us all. If we can’t find a way to live cooperatively with our local population of mountain lions, then the landscapes and open spaces that make the Bay Area so unique will forever change. It is our hope that you will walk away from Lion Appreciation Day with a better understanding of the challenges facing wild populations of American mountain lions and African lions and some inspiration to take action. We look forward to seeing you on Saturday, August 6th!