PHILADELPHIA – January 19, 2012 (WPVI) — The Philadelphia Zoo is welcoming its latest addition: a male African lion named Makini.
Makini, which means “dignity” in the Swahili-African dialect, has taken up residence at the First Niagara Big Cat Falls exhibit.
Zoo officials say the lion, which was born in March 2009, came from the Tulsa Zoo and Living Museum and is settling well in to his new environment. Makini is expected to make his first public appearance next week.
Makini came to the Philadelphia Zoo on a Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommendation. SSP is a program that maintains a list of species, complete with their heritage, that are selected and bred for optimum genetic diversity.
Makini will be joined by a female lion in February. The zoo plans to breed the pair to start another lion pride at America’s first zoo. The big cat will share space with the zoo’s original African lion pride.
“The Philadelphia Zoo is thrilled to welcome to our First Niagara Big Cat Falls family Makini, a young male lion,” said Tammy Schmidt, the zoo’s Curator of Carnivores, in a statement.
“Makini was one of two brothers who were born in Tulsa after 16 years of having no births. We are excited to start our new pride journey with Makini,” said Schmidt.
Most lions now live in eastern and southern Africa, and their numbers there are rapidly decreasing. Experts say the most significant threat to the species includes habitat loss and conflicts with humans.
African lions are listed as a vulnerable species meaning the species is likely to become endangered unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve.