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Meeting the Bachelor Pride

Summer is in full swing, and that means it’s hot here in Atlanta. That means a lot of our carnivores are doing what they do best in the afternoon: sleeping! The lions especially! Lions can spend over 20 hours a day sleeping. That statistic may sound a little crazy until you think about how much of your domestic cat’s day is spent asleep on the windowsill. Lions tend to be nocturnal, so most of the daylight hours are often spent sleeping.

A great way to see our animals up and moving around is through a Wild Encounter. We just started a new Wild Encounter in May with the African lions. During the encounter, guests get a sneak-peek of our behind-the-scenes area for lions and participate in a feeding of one of our three bachelor pride members! It’s a brand-new experience for our guests, the lions, and the keepers, and we are excited!

Despite it being the sleepiest season for lions, we haven’t had too much trouble getting one of the brothers to shift inside to participate in the encounter. Hatari and Azizi have the best table manners, so we call one of them in while another keeper throws meatballs to Hondo, focusing his attention toward staying in their habitat. After either Hatari or Azizi comes in, the second keeper continues offering meatballs to the lions in the habitat to keep them occupied and not feeling too jealous that their brother is getting to be the star inside. The lion who comes in gets some treats from our guests and the opportunity to preen and enjoy being the center of attention. As with every large carnivore species at the Zoo, this encounter is done through protected contact and we don’t enter the same space as the lion, but you will get very close. Even though I work with them every day, I’m still amazed at how huge lions are each time we’re face-to-face with them like this – and that ours are only 3 and a half years old and still going to get bigger!

Even if the Wild Encounter may not be your thing, it’s still a good time to stop by the habitat to see the lions being active. With a keeper offering meatballs, the lions are usually up and walking around during the encounter time. Hopefully we’ll see you on a Wild Encounter or stopping by the habitat soon!
Michelle Elliott
Swing Keeper, Mammals

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl