Wisc. zoo sends lions cubs to Miami

Lion cubs off to Florida; zebras here to stay

By Janine Anderson
Journal Times
Wednesday, November 26, 2008 10:47 PM CST

RACINE — Thanksgiving Day is your last chance to see the full Pride of Racine at the zoo.

Male lion cubs Jabari and Kwame, two of the four cubs born to Elsa and Aslan on Sept. 6, 2007, are headed to the Miami Metro Zoo in Miami, Florida. The cubs are scheduled to leave on Friday.

The moves are part of the Lion Species Survival Plan program, a cooperative population management and conservation program for selected species in zoos and aquariums in North America. The SSP manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is genetically diverse and has animals of a variety of ages.

Elsa and Aslan will remain here indefinitely, zoo officials say, but Bomani and Kya, the two remaining cubs, will be moved to other zoos in the near future.

The Racine Zoo’s four lion cubs, seen here at 7 weeks old, are scheduled to be split up. Two of the cubs are headed to the Miami Metro Zoo on Friday. Buy this photo at http://www.jtreprints.com Journal Times file photo

As the cubs leave, the zoo’s two new zebras make their public debut.

“That whole half of the zoo, often in the winter and in the cooler days in the shoulder months, it doesn’t have any animals outside,” said Jay Christie, president and CEO of the Racine Zoo.

“The giraffes and rhinos, if it’s below 35 degrees, they’re inside,” he said.

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The presence of the zebras is expected to help people see more animals, which zoo visitors do sometimes ask for, according to Christie. Zebras, while from the same general region as the rhinos and giraffes, are much more cold-tolerant, Christie said.

“They’ll be outside unless it’s bitterly cold, in which case no one’s at the zoo anyway,” he said.

Eventually, Christie said, they hope to have another cold-tolerant African animal move into the old giraffe enclosure. The giraffes will be moving into the new space created for them west of the old enclosure. Among the animals under consideration are ostriches, Ankole-Watusi cattle or Arabian camels.

Though people stay home, Christie said, the animals are sometimes more active than during the more popular warmer months.

“The colder it gets, the more exciting (the animals) get,” Christie said. “They tend to get more active.”

Winter highlights are the wild goats, whose coats fill out and can be “quite striking with the snow as the backdrop,” Christie said.

The tigers and Canada lynx also enjoy the colder weather, he said.

Wednesday was the first day that T.J. and Brandi, the two female zebras, were on display. The zebras were acquired from the Glen Oak Zoo in Peoria, Ill. They can be found in the black rhinos’ exhibit, since the rhinos are often indoors during the winter.

One is a 25-year-old Grant’s zebra; the other is a 4-year-old Damara zebra. The most noticeable difference in the two subspecies of zebra is the existence of a gray shadow stripe between the Damara zebra’s dark stripes.

This is the first time in 26 years the Racine Zoo has had zebras in its collection.

The Racine Zoo, 200 Goold St., is open daily. Current hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors, $2 for children between the ages of 3 and 15. Zoo members are free.

For more information on Zoo events and programs, explore www.racinezoo.org or call 262.636.9189.

http://www.journaltimes.com/articles/2008/11/27/local_news/doc492dec899de53518231390.txt

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at https://bigcatrescue.org

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