Sister, Sister: Female lions react differently to Riverbanks mal - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Sister, Sister: Female lions react differently to Riverbanks male lion Zuri

More than three months after two female lions arrived at Riverbanks Zoo, the sisters still have not been physically introduced to their male counterpart. (Source: WIS) More than three months after two female lions arrived at Riverbanks Zoo, the sisters still have not been physically introduced to their male counterpart. (Source: WIS)
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

For several weeks male lion Zuri has been able to hear and smell the new lions in his den, but now he’s getting a chance to see them.
 
“When we open the door, she comes running in and she's prancing and she's excited,” said Katherine Connell the Mammal Keeper in cat and bear area at Riverbanks.
 
Twice a day keepers open the door for the females to come from exhibit to the back room where Zuri is waiting. Although they are kept apart by a mesh barrier, female Thebisa and male Zuri chase each other on opposite sides of the barrier and eventually settle down by lying next to the barrier.
 
“This is a very vulnerable position, so being able to lay down by each other means they’re comfortable with each other and they don’t feel threatened with each other,” said Connell.


 
But of the sister duo, only Thebisa has chosen to go inside to see Zuri. Lindelani has chosen to stay out on exhibit.
 
“She’s occasionally poked her little head in the door but then she just runs away which is what we want her to do—just to take her time,” added Connell.
 
Keepers say in several weeks of this “tactile introduction” process, Lindelani has not been that interested in meeting Zuri. It’s a large reason why they’re staying in this stage of introductions and not letting the animals meet nose-to-nose without a barrier just yet.
 
“[Lindelani] is still learning about him, and she still a little unsure-- so the nice thing about it is she can come in and she has popped her head in the door,” said Curator of Mammals John Davis.
 
And while Lindelani hasn’t followed sister Thebisa in the den yet, keepers say it is not uncommon for animals to respond differently and take their time.
 
“We are going to continue this process until we are all very, very comfortable. We would like to move the two females together during this introduction process,” said Davis. “However, we will play it by ear and the staff will decide as we move forward what the best situation is- leading to a safe introduction for all three animals.”
 
If Lindaloni continues to avoid going in the den, there is a chance keepers could move forward with physical introductions with just Zuri and Thebisa. However, the safety of the animals and the keepers is always the top priority, so keepers say they will take as long as they need to assess the situation. It’s not uncommon for this process to take months.
 
If you’re visiting the zoo anytime soon, you’ll notice the females and Zuri are still taking turns out on exhibit. That will continue until physical introductions are complete.

Copyright 2017 WIS. All rights reserved. 

Powered by Frankly