NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Zoo has a new male lion named Ansel, and two female lions are expected to join him soon. The 5-year-old came from the Henry Vilas Zoo, in Madison, Wisconsin, and can now be seen by visitors after going through a routine quarantine.
He’s considered fully-grown at 450 pounds and has a “beautiful, full-bodied” mane.
“Not only are we excited to bring in this young family of lions, but we are also delighted at the prospect of having cubs in the near future which is crucial to the long-term survival of this species,” said Greg Bockheim, executive director of the Virginia Zoo.
The female lions, Asha and Kali, will turn 5 at the end of April. The zoo says all three lions were endorsed to be sent to the Virginia Zoo based on a breeding recommendation by the African Lion Species Survival Plan.
Staff is excited that their new male lion could further the circle of life by fathering new cubs.
“Ansel is our 5-year-old new lion, He’s about 450 pounds, he’s been here for about two weeks this is only his first or second couple days out on exhibit,” said Emily Spence with the Virginia Zoo. “He is loving the weather because it’s a lot warmer here than it was in Wisconsin. He’s been enjoying the back area for the first few days, and he was here and he just loved being out in the sunshine.”
Ansel’s arrival comes after the recent deaths of two of the zoo’s lions, Mramba and Emery. Its longtime matriarch lioness Zola died in May 2020.
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