VIDEO: Lions on Public Display

As a small group of zoo employees and curious zoo visitors looked on, two -thirds of the new lion pride at Rolling Hills Zoo were for the first time released out into the yard of their enclosure and can now be viewed by the public.

The pride of three lions arrived at the zoo last week. It includes 9-year-old male Sahar and 5-year-old female littermates Kamali and Zalika. The trio of African lions moved to their new home in Salina from the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

All three have been in quarantine while they get acclimated with their new home and new keepers. Kamali and Zalika have responded well, and were released into the yard together Tuesday morning.

The duo eagerly explored their new large habitat, and as they became familiar with it became playful.

As littermates, Kamali and Zalika were born on September 7, 2013 at the Oregon Zoo.  They arrived at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chigaco in April 2015, at which time they were also introduced to Sahar.

Sahar has not adjusted to his new home at Rolling Hills Zoo as quickly as the girls have. He is still in quarantine. Zoo Executive Director Bob Jenkins told KSAL News Sahar is on “lion time”. Whenever he is ready for his new habitat he will be introduced to it, however as much or as little time as it takes.

The pride were moved to Salina in preparation for Lincoln Park Zoo’s building renovation of their iconic Kovler Lion House which originally opened in 1912, and is a historical landmark and the last project of The Pride of Chicago at Lincoln Park Zoo.

Rolling Hills Zoo has been without any African lions in its family since back in March, when their lone remaining lion Motomba had to be humanely euthanized due to complications from a long term illness.

According to the African Wildlife Foundation, lions are considered to be a “vulnerable” species. In the last two decades their population has decreased by forty-three percent and they are regionally extinct in fifteen African countries.