Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is proud to introduce the newest member of its big cat family, a one-and-a-half-year-old male African lion named Abuto (pronounced ah-boo’-toe). He is the fifth member of the Zoo’s lion pride. Guests now have the opportunity to catch glimpses of Abuto through the windows of the Zoo’s new Encounter Africa lion building, located around the corner from the giraffe building. Animal keepers will be presenting Abuto with enrichment items in the new “day room” every morning at 10:30 a.m. this week to give guests the best opportunity to see him in action.
“We are beyond excited about Abuto,” said Tracy Thessing, Director of Animal Collections at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. “It is great to have a male lion at the Zoo again. You can see that he is young, so he will be a highlight of our African lion pride for years to come.”
The young male lion traveled from Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, AZ to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo back in January with the intention of breeding with two of the Zoo’s five-year-old female lions, Lomela and Zwena. His move is part of the cooperative breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. He spent the last few months in the Zoo’s quarantine building getting comfortable with his keepers while the new lion building was being finished.
“In the short time he’s been here, Abuto has developed a good rapport with his keepers,” said Thessing. “He really enjoys enrichment items, toys and training time. He is a very confident, playful and curious lion.”
The Zoo’s four lionesses will remain in their current exhibit for the next week. Once they are moved over to the new building, they will be slowly introduced, one at a time, with Abuto. A mesh barrier will allow them to have protected “howdy” time, and once comfortable, they will be allowed more free contact with each other. All five lions are scheduled to be introduced to their new outdoor exhibit for the first time on July 4. Until then, you can look for them in the indoor “day room” of their new building.
Abuto was born on July 28, 2011. He currently weighs 350 pounds but can grow up to 450 pounds. Though he is still growing his mane, it will be full-grown around three years of age. For more information about Abuto, the rest of the Zoo’s lion pride or the Zoo’s new Encounter Africa exhibit, visit:www.cmzoo.org/EncounterAfrica.