NORFOLK, Va. - The Virginia Zoo's newest animals, two female African lions, explored their new habitat for the first time on Tuesday.
Asha and Kali are sisters born at Blank Park Zoo on November 14, 2017. They were placed at the Virginia Zoo based on a recommendation from the Species Survival Plan, a breeding and population management program.
The lion population has dropped by 43 percent over the past 20 years, and current data leads the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to believe that there are less than 30,000 lions left in the wild — meaning Asha and Kali are an important addition to the Species Survival Plan.
According to the Zoo, Kali is the more dominant female, weighing in at 311 pounds, while her sister Asha weighs in at 300 pounds. Both lions enjoy ice treats, toys like boomer balls and various scent enrichment.
After an introductory period, the lions will join Ansel, the male lion who came to the Zoo in April, in the main lion enclosure.
The Zoo is throwing a Lion House Warming Party on June 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., included in general Zoo admission. Visitors can see the trio and hear their stories during Keeper Chats at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
No housewarming is complete without a few gifts to make them feel at home, so the lion’s Keepers have picked out a few new toys and exhibit furnishings that Zoo fans can purchase or donate toward.