Texas facility gets 2 lions, possibly Barbary lions

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NOTE: As of 15 Feb 2010, the Austin Zoo is not listed as accredited on the AZA website.

Austin Zoo Takes in Two Adult Lions, Possibly Barbary Lions

Barbary Lions are Believed to be Extinct in the Wild; Less than 100 Believed to Exist in the World

Press Release Source: Austin Zoo On Friday February 12, 2010, 8:00 am EST

AUSTIN, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Austin Zoo recently received two lions into its care – Cleopatra and Caesar. The possibility exists that the new residents could be Barbary lions. Barbary lions are believed to be extinct in the wild with less than 100 in captivity in zoos around the world. Austin Zoo is working with other zoos and conservation societies, as well as the Barbary Lion Project, to ensure the well being of their new lion family. Mother Cleopatra has since given birth to lion cubs.

“As always, the mission of Austin Zoo is to rescue and rehabilitate,” said Patti Clark, executive director of Austin Zoo. “We took in the lions from a private owner who was no longer able to house them as has been our policy for many years. As we are not a breeding zoo, the arrival of the cubs was a rare but exciting event. We are doing all we can to assist the Barbary Lion Project in determining whether these cubs, as well as Cleopatra and Caesar, will be eligible to help renew the Barbary lion in the wild.”

The Barbary Lion Project is an ambitious program by WildLink International in conjunction with Oxford University, to resurrect the Barbary lion population and to ultimately release the lions into a national park in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. While the Barbary lion is believed to be extinct, strains of the DNA still exist in lion populations in captivity. The Barbary Lion Project program will isolate the strongest candidates for breeding to ensure the comeback of the Barbary lion.

“It was surely a difficult choice for Austin Zoo to participate in the Urgent Population Assessment of panthera leo leo without prophylactic options such as separation,” said Pete Thompson of WildLink International. “European zoos that have acquired and bred Barbary lions from Morocco were asked to provide DNA samples in 2008 and some are still awaited. Austin Zoo has been the most recent zoo to participate and submitted their lion DNA samples to Dr. Burger at the lab in Germany in just a few weeks. Patti and her dedicated team demonstrate that zoos can help Host Country conservation with swift responsible action. These efforts are very greatly appreciated.”

“This has really been a tremendous experience,” continued Clark. “If we can do our small part to help keep the Barbary lion alive and well, we are more than happy to do so. These are truly, truly beautiful animals.”

Cleopatra and Caesar currently live at Austin Zoo along with their cubs.

Viewing for the cubs will begin February 15th on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 3-4 p.m., weather permitting. For more information regarding viewing times, visit the website at www.austinzoo.org or phone the Zoo Gift Shop at 512-288-1490. Regular Austin Zoo admission fees are in effect. No additional fees are being charged to see the cubs.

Austin Zoo is seeking donations to assist with the lions’ care and to ultimately expand the enclosure space for our 8 adult lions. Austin Zoo is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. To donate, visit our website (www.austinzoo.org) or call Austin Zoo at 512-288-1490.

About Austin Zoo

Austin Zoo is a 501(c)(3) registered non-profit organization, and we rely on private donations, gate admissions, grants and sponsorships to continue to care for the animals we have, and to be able to take in new animals that need a safe home. Austin Zoo currently houses more than 300 animals from more than 100 different species. For more information, visit www.austinzoo.org.



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