Gio receives a roaring send off

29 August 2016

Tennis ace, Gordon Reid, received a roaring send off ahead of his flight to the Rio Paralympics.

Tennis ace, Gordon Reid, popped by this Sunday to meet one of our lion cubs and drop off some tennis balls for him to play with before heading off to Rio to compete in the Paralympics.

We were ecstatic when our lioness, Karis, gave birth to four lion cubs on 9th July. Although it is not unheard of, having four cubs in a litter is fairly uncommon - typically the litter would be 2 or 3 cubs. Deciding on what to call the cubs proved to be too contentious, so it was left to the public to choose fitting names. After a public poll, the names Reid, Murray, Thistle and Isla were picked. After naming the cubs, we then contacted the Paralympian, ranked 2nd in the world, to give him the good news. Gordon, aka Gio, was overjoyed and gladly accepted an invitation to see his namesake as keepers carried out routine health inspection.

Gio is hoping to add to his recent victories: already this year he has won the grand slam singles wheelchair title at the Australian Open, followed in July with his second grand slam victory in the inaugural singles wheelchair championships at Wimbledon. After receiving their gifts, the cubs now have a keen eye for tennis balls, and we will be keeping an ear out for Gio's progress in the tournament. The cubs are all doing well, and after their final jabs they will start to venture out from about 8 weeks of age.

African Lions are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species – a recent estimate suggests approximately 30,000 African Lions remain in the wild. Increasing diversity in captivity as well as continuing research with both wild and captive populations is therefore essential. This combined with ongoing support of wildlife projects and 'in-situ' conservation will allow us to help safeguard this amazing species from extinction.

Fast Facts.

  • Lions are the only truly social cat species, and live in groups called prides (5 to 35 closely related females).
  • Female lions are the primary hunters of the group. They are smaller and more agile than males. But since their prey is still generally faster than them, they use teamwork to bring an animal down.
  • Living in the grasslands, scrub, and open woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa, the lion is the second largest cat in the world.
  • Lions can go 4-5 days without drinking by obtaining moisture from the stomach contents of their prey.
  • Female cubs stay with the group as they age. At around two years old, they become capable hunters. But young males are forced out of the pride at that age. They form bachelor groups and follow migrating herds until they are strong enough to challenge male lions of other prides. In general, a group of males stays in power in the pride for around three years before another bachelor group takes it over.
  • Only male lions boast manes, the impressive fringe of long hair that encircles their heads.