The two-year-old African lion sisters, Kamaria and Ilanga, will leave the Idaho Falls Zoo and become part of the pride at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo on Tuesday.
“While we’ll miss them, we always knew the day would come when some members of our lion family would leave our zoo,” General Curator Darrell Markum said.
In only 30 years, wild African lion numbers have declined a startling 40 percent.
The transfer of the sisters is an example of the important role Idaho Falls Zoo, as an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), plays in both local and global conservation efforts to save threatened and endangered species through a program known as the Species Survival Plan (SSP).
For now, Hondo, the young male lion born at the zoo in 2017, will remain at the Idaho Falls Zoo with his mother, Kimani. She is 17-years-old and past breeding age.
The average lion expectancy of a captive lion is 15-20 years, so the tentative plan is when Kimani passes, the SSP will assign the Idaho Falls Zoo a new mate (or mates as lions are social) to join Hondo.
The Idaho Falls Zoo is open daily 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. through October 6.