Taronga Western Plains Zoo opens African Lion Pride Lands

Opened just in time for the school holidays, Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s much anticipated, $9 million African Lion Pride Lands exhibit is a 'roaring' success.

Visitors to the zoo will be enthralled by a captivating new experience, the African Lion Pride Lands exhibit, which opened in Easter 2018.

The vast 3.5 hectare exhibit represents the first major change to the circuit in the zoo’s history and sees a pride of eight lions roaming their habitat, visible from a replica African Masai village setting.

Pride on show: Kasey Clark, Levi Rushbrook and Jamayne Clark get up close and personal with some of the majestic animals. Photo: Belinda Soole.

Pride on show: Kasey Clark, Levi Rushbrook and Jamayne Clark get up close and personal with some of the majestic animals. Photo: Belinda Soole.

“To date, an incredible 57,000 man hours have been dedicated to this project by contractor, David Payne Constructions," Taronga Western Plains Zoo Director Steve Hinks said.

"Visitor viewing shelters and behind-the-scenes animal night yards, final fencing work, road works and landscaping have all been complete.

“An impressive moat separating visitor viewing shelters from the Lion’s habitat has been filled with water, with paths and walkways and an African-inspired goat kraal also complete. The wetlands are being filled with water, following an extensive sheet piling project, and we’re pleased to see birdlife returning.”

SPECIAL PUBLICATION: Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo is celebrating 40 years of working for the wild. Pick up your free copy of this 76-page special publication from the offices of the Daily Liberal, Western Advocate, Central Western Daily and Mudgee Guardian. Click the image to view the publication online.

SPECIAL PUBLICATION: Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo is celebrating 40 years of working for the wild. Pick up your free copy of this 76-page special publication from the offices of the Daily Liberal, Western Advocate, Central Western Daily and Mudgee Guardian. Click the image to view the publication online.

The visitor experience at Lion Pride Lands will be particularly special, giving visitors a real insight into, and sensory experience of, being in Africa and the plight of lions in the wild. A goat herd highlights the coexistence of domestic animals and apex predators such as lions, commonplace in an African Masai village setting.

Look across the water to elevated rock structures, replicating a lion’s natural environment in the wild from which they survey their domain. Large kopjes (rock piles) and elevated viewing areas for both people and lions are iconic elements of this exhibit and encourage a people-wildlife connection.

Bruce Murdock, precinct manager for Wildlife Conservation and Science at the zoo, is looking forward to the opening of Lion Pride Lands.

Lions with children

“To have a large group of lions on such a large exhibit is a very exciting prospect for the team at Taronga Western Plains Zoo,” Mr Murdock said.

Mr Murdock said the new digs will be home to the existing pride of eight lions – mother Maya, father Lazarus, four juvenile cubs and two sub-adult females.

“We have allowed a few months for the important animal familiarisation process to take place, to ensure every animal is relaxed and confident prior to opening," he said.

“The African Lion Pride Lands exhibit is a promising development for Taronga Western Plains Zoo for both lion conservation and visitor experience. We are planning to increase lion numbers from an initial group of eight, to up to 16 in the future.”

  • Read more: Meet the lions – dad Lazarus, mum Maya, young females Zuri and Makeba, and the lads Bakari, Karoo, Virunga and Sheru.
  • The project is part of the Taronga Centenary Visitor Experience Program, co-funded by Taronga and the NSW Government. This program has been developed to transform visitor experiences and create vital animal habitats at both Taronga Western Plains and Taronga Zoos over the next decade.
This story Lions' new digs will be a roaring success first appeared on Daily Liberal.