Endangered Asiatic lion now takes visitors to Fota Wildlife Park
An endangered Asiatic lion, named Yali, can now be seen at Foto Wildlife Park in County Cork.
The male lion recently arrived from Paignton Zoo in the UK on August 4 and has undergone routine acclimatization to his new habitat at the Asian Sanctuary.
The lion was gradually introduced to the two female lionesses, Gira and Gita, in the park.
Foto Wildlife Park expects Yali to form a new troop under the European ex-situ endangered breeding program (EEP) for Asiatic lions.
The two lionesses, Gira and Gita, are sisters and both eight years old and came from Helsinki Zoo in Finland in the summer of 2016.
Gira gave birth to two litters with the previous Lion male, Shanto, who sadly passed away from kidney failure earlier this year.
Julien Fonteneau, Head of Rangers, said: “We are delighted to introduce Yali to our visitors. He has spent the last two weeks slowly getting used to his new surroundings and the lionesses. Last night we were delighted to hear him roar which means he is much more comfortable and feeling territorial in his new habitat.
“The lionesses have both tried to woo him, but he doesn’t pay much attention to them, and we’re all hoping that will change because he’s been recommended to breed, so hopefully he’ll take an interest in it. they.
“He’s not as tall as Shanto, he still has some girth and muscle to put on, and his mane is still growing and will fill out more as he becomes part of the new pride.”
The Asiatic lion is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and inhabits only one remaining site in the world, the Gir Forest in India, which means that parks animal houses and zoos play a crucial role in safeguarding the species.
The current population in the Gir forest is estimated at around 500 to 600 lions.
The Asiatic lion is a subspecies of the genus Panthera that split from the African lions around 100,000 years ago. Since the beginning of the 20th century, its range has been restricted to Gir National Park and surrounding areas of the Indian state of Gujarat.
Asiatic lions were once widespread from the Mediterranean to India and Iran, covering most of Southwest Asia, where they were also known as the Persian lion. Like their African cousins, male Asiatic lions have a mane although it is much shorter, darker, and does not cover their ears. Mating is not seasonal and occurs year-round.
Male Asiatic lions reach sexual maturity around the age of five, while female Asiatic lions reach sexual maturity earlier, around the age of four. The gestation period lasts between 112 and 119 days, after which 1 to 5 young are born. Birth intervals can be 18 to 26 months.
Fota Wildlife Park opened the Asian Sanctuary in 2015, which is now home to some of Asia’s most endangered species, such as the Indian rhino, Sumatran tiger, red panda and Asiatic lion.