News | 24 November 2021

Lions return to Wellington Zoo

We're not lion, Wellington Zoo is excited to announce the upcoming arrival of two very im-paw-tant new residents.

A young male lion looking direct to camera from on top of a rock.

Wellington Zoo is excited to announce the upcoming arrival of two young male Lions. The Lions will arrive on Friday (November 26) from Copenhagen Zoo. 
 
“We are incredibly excited to be welcoming lions back to Wellington Zoo,” says Wellington Zoo Chief Executive Karen Fifield MNZM. “Lions have always been a part of the Wellington Zoo whānau, since the beginning, and a favourite with our Zoo community.” 
 
The two brothers will arrive in Auckland on Thursday after flying from Copenhagen and will be transported via road to Wellington Zoo.
 
“Male Lions naturally leave their family once they reach maturity,” says Animal Science Manager, Simon Eyre. “As these two brothers are now reaching that age, Copenhagen Zoo has made the decision to relocate them. We are fortunate enough to be able to welcome them to Wellington where we can provide them with a good life.” 

Two young male lions sitting on a boulder in a zoo.

Transporting animals over such a significant distance can present some unique logistical challenges. The teams at Copenhagen and Wellington Zoos have been planning for months to ensure the welfare of both animals during the move. 
 
“People often ask how animals come to live at Wellington Zoo. Animal moves and transfers between progressive zoos are carefully managed and planned, ensuring the animals will be well cared for at their new zoo, and that they’re coming from a reputable zoo in the first place,” says Simon Eyre.

Two young male lions licking each other.

It will still be several days until Wellington Zoo visitors can catch a glimpse of the new arrivals. Both Lions will need to complete a quarantine period and MPI approval process in their dens before being released into their habitat. 
 
Lions have been part of the Wellington Zoo community since we first opened in 1906 when the zoo was gifted a male Lion, King Dick. Lions have played a vital role in being advocates for their wild counterparts, and as a vulnerable species, they have enabled us to share their important conservation story. We are excited to welcome these lions to the Zoo so we can continue our conservation work with this iconic species.

A young male lion sitting on a rock.

In the wild, Lions are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to human-animal conflict. Through the Wellington Zoo Conservation Fund, the Zoo supports local and global conservation projects to save wildlife and wild places. 10% from every Animal Experience goes directly to the Wellington Zoo Conservation Fund.

You can learn more about Wellington Zoo's conservation work on their website.