As part of The Wellington App’s Summer Edition, we are working with Wellington Zoo to showcase some of the amazing animals you and your family can visit while the weather is good! Every Wednesday and Friday during January we will feature a new creature with some general information about the species, but also a bit of “behind the scenes” information from their keepers. If you enjoy this content, please let us know by contacting [email protected] – We need your input to make sure that we are bringing Wellingtonians what Wellingtonians want!
Pride of Wellington – Djembe, Djane, and Zahra
Lions are the world’s only social big cat. They live in large groups called prides. Living in a pride gives them an advantage in the huge open spaces of their wild habitat, the African savannah. The females of a lion pride work together to hunt the large herbivores which are found there. This is crucial for them because while their prey can weigh up to 1500kg+, a lioness usually only weighs about 120kgs. Male Lions weigh more, up to 200kg, but they do not usually participate in hunting.
The lion’s signature roar is rather rare amongst big cats – only 4 species are able to make this impressive sound. The roar of an adult Lion can be heard for over 5 kilometres – as many Newtown residents can attest!
Wellington Zoo has a pride of three female Lions, Djembe, Djane, and Zahra. They are all 17 and are sisters! Djane is the current leader of the pride and this means that she is often the first into their den to get food or to go to bed. She is a very confident and cunning animal who keeps a close eye on her keepers, trying to stay one step ahead of them. You can identify her yourself by keeping an eye out for the tear marks which run down her cheeks and her lighter tan colouration.
Zhara is the most golden coloured of Wellington Zoo’s pride and her tear marks curl up onto the sides of her nose. Like many Wellingtonians, she is quite the foodie, and really takes the time to savour and enjoy her meals.
Djembe is the easiest Lion to identify due to having the biggest face of the trio, and also a nick out of her right ear. She is the most skittish of the three Lions at the Zoo and her favourite food is chicken.
Lion’s were widespread throughout Africa, but are now only found south of the Sahara in disjointed populations. They are classed as vulnerable because of extensive habitat loss. This brings them into conflict with humans who kill them in defence of their livestock, through recreational hunting, and even as part of the bush meat trade.
There’s no better way to really experience the power and strength of a Lion than by being close enough to smell their breath and see the real size of their teeth and claws (behind a mesh screen)! You may even get the chance to feed them. Follow this link to book a Close Encounter with Wellington’s lion pride. You can feel extra good about an amazing experience, because 10% of the proceeds from every ticket go towards saving animals in the wild through the Wellington Zoo Conservation Fund.