Lee Richardson Zoo is happy to welcome two young male African lions to Garden City. Asani and Bantu, both 2 years old, arrived from Zoo Miami in Florida and made their first public appearance in Garden City on Thursday after having some time to adjust to their new home.
The move was recommended as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP). The SSP is a collaborative effort working toward genetically and demographically healthy populations to aid in the conservation of the species.
“I’m looking forward to watching them grow up and play with all the enrichment we’ll offer them,” said primary lion keeper Rachel Meili. “I’m sure those who visit the zoo will have a marvelous time too.”
Bantu is slightly darker and larger than his brother Asani. Bantu also has a fuller mane. Due to their ages, their manes still have a way to go before they compare to that of Razi, the 10-year-old male who also lives at Lee Richardson Zoo. The brothers and Razi’s family will live at the zoo as separate prides.
In 2007, Razi, who was born at Denver Zoo, came to Lee Richardson Zoo to join Amali who is a year his senior and was born in Garden City. The pair has produced two litters of cubs including Lulu, who was born last year and remains with her parents. Lulu’s brothers moved to the Denver Zoo earlier this year. Cubs from the first litter now live in Zoo New England in Boston, Massachusetts and Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas while Amali’s brother, Shambe, is in NEW Zoo in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
African lions have lost much of their habitat in Africa to human development and now exist mainly in wildlife preserves. Remaining populations are isolated from one another, and are in danger of becoming inbred, which leads to further population decline. Some populations have been decimated by canine distemper spread by domestic dogs.
Lee Richardson Zoo is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for guests to enjoy and connect with nature.