Fota Wildlife Park is delighted to welcome endangered male Asiatic lion Yali who arrived from Paignton Zoo, UK, last Thursday, the 4th of August. Yali is currently being acclimatised to his new surroundings, and the public may catch a glimpse of him in the Lion house or the adjoining area. Hopefully, he will soon be able to join the two lionesses, Gira and Gita, in the main Lion habitat in the coming days. Yali is being gradually introduced to the two females from a smaller enclosure, where they can see, hear, and smell Yali from the main habitat.
Yali, who was born in Paignton Zoo, is six years old, and it’s hoped that he will start a new pride at Fota Wildlife Park as part of the ex-situ European endangered breeding programme (EEP) for Asiatic lions.
The lionesses, Gira and Gita, are sisters, are both aged eight, and came from Helsinki Zoo in Finland in the summer of 2016. Gira gave birth to two litters with the previous male Lion, Shanto, who sadly died from kidney failure earlier this year.
The Asiatic lion is classified as endangered by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and inhabits only one remaining site in the world, the Gir Forest in India, which means that wildlife parks and zoos play a crucial role in safeguarding the species. The current population in the Gir Forest is estimated to be in the region of 500 lions.
Two critically endangered Sumatran tigers recently moved to two separate UK zoos as part of ex-situ European endangered breeding programmes (EEP).
Three-year-old Dash, who was born at Fota Wildlife Park, recently arrived at Chester Zoo. Dash was identified as a genetically compatible mate for the zoo’s resident female, Kasarna, and it is hoped they will breed in the future.
Dash’s mother, Dourga, who is 11 years old, was transferred on Friday the 5th Aug to West Midlands Zoo near Birmingham in the UK.
There are now three Sumatran tigers at Fota Wildlife Park, 10-year-old male Denar, who originally came from Warsaw City Zoo in Poland, 8-year-old male Batak, who came to Fota from Zoo Parc de Beauval in France and a 10-year-old female Mayang, who was born at Doué La Fontaine Zoo also in France. Denar is father to Dash and a female Dharma, who now resides in Edinburgh Zoo.
Sumatran tigers are the rarest tiger species in the world, and ex-situ endangered breeding programmes maintain genetically healthy populations of animals as a back-up for critically endangered species like these. These breeding programmes are considered crucial to the species’ long-term survival.