African Lion

HomeAnimalsAfrican Lion

Cats of Africa opened in 2003 with African lions Chadwick and Gingerbread, who later had two cubs from two different litters.


  • Is the Zoo’s only male lion and was born in September 1998
  • Is “small” compared to other male lions, weighing “only” 385 pounds
  • Enjoys raw meat juice frozen into cubes, which he licks on hot days

Gingerbread is missed by the entire Santa Barbara Zoo staff. 


  • Arrived from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. in October 2012 when they were 2 years old. They aren’t easy to tell apart!
  • Kadi has a small scar near her nose and is more extroverted and active than Neema
  • Neema is slightly bigger than Kadi
  • Enjoy playing in the water in the exhibit’s pool, unlike most lions

From the Keepers

“Kadi and Neema fight over every toy we give them, and each doesn’t want the other to get it. When we put a tractor tire in the yard for them to interact with, both of them pounced on it, one lion opposite the other, pulling and growling. Neither would give up, even to eat. It was six hours before they let go and came inside.” -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)

The Zoo’s lions are fed a special meat-based food that also contains ground-up bones, which mimics their diet in the wild. They enjoy gnawing on frozen bones, and drinking raw meat juice. They fast (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!