The evacuated lions from Ukraine can be seen at the panoramic window in Tiger Forest until they have a new, large specially designed facility with plenty of space and activities, where they can serve as ambassadors for their wild counterparts in nature. More lions are expected to arrive at the safari park in the near future.
Evacuated lions from Ukraine
The lions were all evacuated through an international collaboration, which, in addition to Knuthenborg Safari Park and the Danish Animal Protection, involved 17 other animal welfare organizations and zoos in Europe, as well as the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).
The lionesses, approximately three years old, originated from a zoo in eastern Ukraine. Their names are Simba, Molly, and Ploy, and they were first evacuated to Poznan Zoo in Poland, serving as a transit point. From there, they were transported by Knuthenborg Safari Park personnel. The ongoing need to evacuate large predators creates a highly unusual situation. Therefore, we at the Safari Park are providing a safe and secure environment for these lions.
Threatened by illegal wildlife trade
Within the European zoo community, it became evident early on that there was a significant risk of these lions ending up in the illegal market if we did not make an effort to secure a safe home for them. The illegal trade in wild animals and animal parts is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity.
New large lion enclosure under construction in Knuthenborg
Knuthenborg offers ample space and opportunities for the animals. We are currently building a specially designed lion enclosure covering approximately 40,000 square meters, equivalent to the size of seven football fields. The lion enclosure will be completed by the end of 2023, emphasizing high animal welfare standards and plenty of space. It is natural for lions to live in larger social groups, and more lions are expected to join the safari park in the future. Therefore, we are constructing an even larger lion enclosure with ample space and activities where they can serve as ambassadors for their wild counterparts in nature.
The safari park already houses Europe’s largest elephant enclosure and Europe’s largest tiger enclosure.
Close to you in Knuthenborg, but we must protect them in the wild!
King of the Savannah
Lions have strong, compact bodies with powerful forelimbs, teeth, and jaws for capturing and killing prey. Their fur is a golden-yellow color, and adult males have a distinctive mane that can vary in color from blond to reddish-brown to black. The length and color of a lion’s mane are likely determined by age, genetics, and hormones. Young lions have light spots on their fur that disappear as they grow. A fully grown male lion can weigh up to 250 kilograms, while females weigh around 180 kilograms. Without their skin, lion and tiger bodies are so similar that only experts can differentiate between them.
Lions are large predators with an immensely powerful bite. Their molar teeth are not flat like ours but sharp like knives. When feeding, they do not chew their food thoroughly but instead swallow large chunks of meat at once. In a single meal, a large lion can consume over 50 kilograms of meat, roughly equivalent to 250 steaks from the butcher.
Lions are the most social of all cat species. They live in groups known as prides, which consist of related females, including adult “teenagers” (between 2 and 4 years old), cubs, and one or more resident males. The size of a lion pride is significantly influenced by the availability of prey in their habitat. In areas with abundant prey, prides are usually larger.
The main threats to African lions are conflicts with humans, prey depletion, habitat loss, climate change, and wildlife trade. Over the past decade, lion populations have declined by approximately 30 percent. With fewer than 23,000 African lions remaining in the wild, they are now officially classified as “vulnerable.” As much as 4 out of 5 lion cubs die in the wild before reaching adulthood. If we don’t take action now, we risk losing half of the wild lions in Eastern Africa within twenty years.
CLASS: Mammalia (Mammals)
ORDER: Carnivora (Carnivores)
FAMILY: Felidae (Cats)
SPECIES: Panthera leo