African Lion

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Cats of Africa opened in 2003 with African lions Chadwick and Gingerbread, who later had two cubs from two different litters. Other lions have also lived here, but Chadwick is now the only resident. Find out why below.

CHADWICK

  • Was born in September 1998 at the Indianapolis Zoo
  • Is considered geriatric (elderly) at age 18
  • Had cataract surgery in both eyes in February 2010
  • Is “small” compared to other male lions, weighing “only” 305 pounds
  • Has reduced vision in both eyes, but can see movement and shapes

Why Just One Lion?

In the wild, many elderly male lions live solitary lives, having been ousted from the pride by younger, stronger males. After the passing of Gingerbread, Chadwick is now the sole resident in Cats of Africa, mirroring this natural stage of lion social structure.

Chadwick has poor eyesight and other ailments associated with old age. However, he has coped very well and appears comfortable on his own. A team of dedicated staff makes sure that he is well cared for and given lots of attention. He receives daily training sessions and special enrichment items to keep him engaged and as active as possible.

Chadwick showed no interest in breeding with Neema and Kadi, littermates who moved here in November 2012 as part of an AZA breeding recommendation. So, in April 2017, the sisters moved to Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa, to be given the opportunity to breed. This is in the best interest for their welfare, and helps increase genetic diversity among lions in human care in North America.

Chadwick will live out the rest of his life as Cats of Africa’s only, but much beloved, resident.

From the Keepers

“Chadwick may be old, but he’s still active and exhibiting normal behaviors. He willingly comes over to the training wall to work with the keepers. He interacts with enrichment items which change daily, like large logs and branches, unusual scents, freshly cut greenery, and various food treats (see below). He roars at various times throughout the day, to establish his territory. It’s usually after he wakes up in the morning or from a nap, and if he smells something interesting. But we do have to watch out, as he does still spray to mark his space — and keepers if they are within range.” -Michele G.

Conservation Status

Humans are among the main threats to lions in the wild, according to the IUCN Red List which lists the species as Vulnerable. It is believed that many lions killed by humans are retaliatory or preemptive to protect life and livestock, though trophy hunting is still allowed in some sub-Saharan countries. Habitat loss, depletion of prey, and disease from domestic animals are other factors.

Protect Local Birds!

Lions and house cats are similar in many ways, including their inclinations to play and hunt. By putting a bell on the collar of your outdoor cat or keeping your cat indoors, you can help protect many local birds from your cat’s natural instincts.

Food Fit for a King (of Beasts)

Chadwick is fed a special meat-based food that also contains ground-up bones, which mimics their diet in the wild. He enjoys gnawing on large bones and licking frozen meat juice. He fasts (don’t eat) one day a week, as lions in the wild often go days without feeding.

Hear Me Roar

Chadwick likes to vocalize when he hears the zookeepers bringing dinner. Check it out!

GINGERBREAD & CHADWICK’S LEGACY

  • Gingerbread passed away at age 18 in February 2017 after prolonged illness
  • Born at Indianapolis Zoo in May 1998
  • Lived with Chadwick since March 2003, when Cats of Africa opened
  • Pair produced two offspring from two different litters
    • Kiki: lived at Zoo Atlanta for 10 years, produced two litters; now at Fresno Zoo with offspring Namaya; gave birth to male cub Kijani in October 2016
    • Docha: lives at John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids, Michigan; does not have a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA)