Our Pride in Lion Camp
Guests found themselves eye to eye and nose to nose with lions at the Wild Animal Park when Lion Camp opened in 2004—a thick glass viewing window was all that separated visitor from cat in two places along the grassy savanna exhibit. It was a thrill to see the big cats lithely and powerfully stalk up to the window and stare at the humans as only a lion could. Comments like “It’s like he’s looking right through me,” and “When she’s watching me, I get a shiver up my spine and an urge to run!” were common.
Male M’bari and female Etosha, the dominant pair, along with males Izu and Tomo and females Oshana and Mina, were all about two years old when they took over the exhibit—and take over, they did! When they weren’t eyeing visitors, they chased each other up and down the hillside, played “king of the hill” on the boulders, watched the giraffes in the field exhibits below, and lounged inside and on top of the Jeep placed in their habitat—a favorite sight for guest photos.
The six felines, which were part of the AZA Species Survival Plan for lions, formed a tight-knit pride and bonds with their keepers, too. Lion Camp quickly became a visitor favorite as they grew into the kings and queens of the Wild Animal Park savanna.