CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Metroparks Zoo welcomed two new adult female African lions on July 10.
The lionesses arrived via truck from a private exotic animal rescue organization in Fairfield County in southern Ohio.
One of the Zoo's associate curators of animals, a zookeeper and two veterinary staff members accompanied the lions during the trip.
Little is known about Nala, 8, and Serena, 7, except that they spent most of their lives at the private facility. They appear to be in good health and will spend the next 30 days in routine quarantine before being introduced to Moufasa, 14, the Zoo's resident male lion.
Introductions will be done incrementally to ease the lionesses' transition to their new home in the Zoo's African Savanna, and ensure the three animals will be compatible.
The private animal rescue organization was forced to close due to financial concerns and an exotic animal rescue specialist was called in from California to help find homes for the tigers, lions and other animals on the property.
"We were heartbroken earlier this year when we lost our female lion Chloe," said Curator of Animals Andi Kornak. "The opportunity to provide these two female lions with an excellent home came at just the right time and we're very happy to have them. We believe Moufasa, who had been with Chloe for many years, also will be happy to have companions again."
Unlike other cat species, lions in the wild live in social groups called prides with a dominant male and five to seven related females and their offspring. However, Nala and Serena have already been spayed, and Moufasa had a vasectomy, so there won't be any offspring from this particular pride.
Though lions were once common throughout most of Africa, they are now primarily found in protected grasslands south of the Sahara Desert and in parts of southern and eastern Africa. They are classified as "vulnerable" in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
In the wild, lions have a life expectancy of 14 years, and can live up to 20 years in zoos.