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African lion sisters soon to leave Idaho Falls Zoo

Idaho Falls

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Courtesy City of Idaho Falls

The following is a news release from the Idaho Falls Zoo.

IDAHO FALLS — On Tuesday, the two-year-old African lion sisters, Kamaria and Ilanga, will begin a new life adventure as they move on to become part of the pride at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo.

“While we’ll miss them, we always knew the day would come when some members of our lion family would leave our zoo,” General Curator Darrell Markum said.

In only 30 years, wild African lion numbers have declined a startling 40 percent. The transfer of the sisters is an example of the important role Idaho Falls Zoo, as an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), plays in both local and global conservation efforts to save threatened and endangered species through a program known as the Species Survival Plan (SSP).

The Species Survival Plan is comprised of a scientific committee responsible for ensuring the genes of the captive populations, such as the African lions, stay diverse and healthy for generations to come. As part of the program, animals often move from their natal zoo to other accredited institutions in a scientific match-making effort. By regulating breeding, scientists can help ensure lions under human care are being properly managed to prevent the extinction of the species.

For now, Hondo, the young male lion born at the zoo in 2017, will remain at the Idaho Falls Zoo with his mother, Kimani. At 17 years old, Kimani is passed breeding age. The average lion expectancy of a captive lion is 15-20 years. The tentative plan is when Kimani passes, the SSP will assign the Idaho Falls Zoo a new mate (or mates as lions are social) to join Hondo.

The Idaho Falls Zoo is open daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. through October 6. Visit us and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Subscribe to zoo notices under Notify Me on the City’s website,