Hours: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tickets: Adults $11, Child (3-12 yrs) $6
Introducing Deuce: Blank Park Zoo's new male lion!
On Monday morning, my co-worker walked into my office and told me she was going down to see Deuce, our new male lion, in his holding area.
“Do you want to come with me?”
I didn’t have to think twice. “Heck yes!”
Deuce arrived at Blank Park Zoo in October from the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin. He spent about a month quarantined (separated) from the other animals, and just a couple weeks ago we moved him down to his new holding area. This is all part of the process as we transition him to his new home at Blank Park Zoo, his new exhibit and the female lionesses, Falala and Gavivi.
Deuce when he first arrived up in quarantine.
According to Bonnie Van Ellen, area supervisor of our Great Cats and primates, the length of the introduction process is dictated by progress. The introduction started with a “howdy” door where the lions can experience each other’s scent without seeing anything. Then, they see each other through an empty pen, which separates them from touching and harming themselves or each other. They are such powerful animals that safety is the focus for all involved. Eventually, Deuce will check out the exhibit by himself before all three will be on exhibit together in the coming weeks.
Deuce is very young – he’ll be 2 years old Dec. 18! – and has a lot of energy. Because he has fewer memories, his personality is more social and seems to be accepting of new people. Bonnie says the fact that Deuce crated without practice or medication is testament to his personality – he is amazingly calm and cooperative. He loves to be active and pounce, run and play with enrichment. He is learning things very fast and adapting to his new home very well.
Enrichment and training are an important piece of working with animals here at the Zoo, and Deuce has taken to it quite well. He enjoys sinking his teeth into everything – it is our challenge to find safe things for him to destroy or supply him items that are less likely to break. Lions also like pungent odors such as Greek seasoning, garlic and coffee.
Deuce is a very healthy boy and currently weighs in at around 330 pounds, which is fairly typical for a lion his age, and he will likely reach about 500 when he is full grown.
Bonnie says it is an “overwhelming honor to work with such a force of nature.”
After having the opportunity to meet him up close, I can see why! I snapped a couple photos – forgive the cell phone quality.
We could hear his roar from behind the door!
He wore himself out doing training and enrichment and got sleepy. So sweet!
And, check out the video to see more of him!