Dane County Executive Announces New Female African Lion

March 07, 2013
Carrie Springer, Office of the County Executive 608.267.8823 or cell, 608.843.8858
County Executive


Dane County Executive Joe Parisi today announced the arrival of a new female African lion at Dane County’s Henry Vilas Zoo. The lion came to Madison from the Sedgewick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas.


“It’s always exciting to have new animals at the zoo. And everyone who loves our great zoo will be happy to see a new female African lion,” said Parisi.


Ronda Schwetz, Director of the zoo, noted that Shakura is just over two years old and is a young adult. The Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP), which works to preserve a species over generations, sent Shakura to pair with Henry, the older male lion currently at the zoo. The SSP makes matches to help produce the healthiest and most genetically sound offspring possible for the long-term health of the whole population.


Dane County Supervisor Chuck Erickson, a member of the Henry Vilas Zoo Commission, is pleased the SSP made the match.


"The Vilas and Greenbush neighborhoods, as well as the larger Dane County community are thrilled about the new addition to our world class and free, Henry Vilas Zoo," said Erickson.


“Shakura is very energetic and fun to watch on exhibit.  She has taken to her new surroundings very well,” said Schwetz.


Long-time resident lion Henry, 17 years old, has recently been diagnosed with early stage renal failure, which is common in both big cats and house cats of this age. The disease is manageable through diet and close monitoring by staff.


Male lions rarely live past 10 years in the wild and live on average 13-18 years in captivity. Henry has reached such advanced age, and is still able to be paired with a young female lion, because of the excellent care he receives from the zoo’s keepers and veterinary staff.


 “Henry and Shakura are getting to know each other, and until they can go outside together, they will be taking turns on exhibit when the weather is nice. We look forward to everyone coming to see our new addition,” said Schwetz.

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