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ABQ BioPark Zoo celebrates World Lion Day with special events

The majestic lives of lions will be the main topic today at the ABQ BioPark Zoo.

World Lion Day will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today. There will be a lion keeper chat at 1:30 p.m. Volunteer docents will have discovery stations set up that will feature information about lions and items including a lion hide that guests can touch and feel.

“Basically, one of the keepers that works with the lions will come out and just talk a little bit about them, a little bit about their background and answer any questions that the public may have,” said Audrey Lenzi, zoo science education coordinator.

The ABQ BioPark Zoo has two lions, which are brother and sister. The male lion is named Kenya, and the female is named Dixie. The siblings will turn 5 years old in December.

On average, lions can live about 17 years in captivity, according to Lenzi. African lions are the second-largest living cats, after tigers.

Male lions are as large as their appetites. A male lion can eat about a quarter of its body weight in one meal.

The age of a male lion can be determined by its mane.

“A male lion’s mane will darken in color with his age,” Lenzi said. “So if he has a really full, dark mane, it means he’s really healthy, but older like a more mature male.”

Lions are classified as vulnerable, mainly due to habitat loss and human conflict.

“Their populations in the wild are declining, and that’s just mainly due to poaching or habitat fragmentation or if they go into farms the farmers will shoot them because they don’t want them to kill their livestock,” Lenzi said. “Different things like that.”

There are various ways people can help lions. One way is talking to relatives and friends about the importance of lions. The more people know, the more people care about protecting them and their habitat, Lenzi said.

“You can also help lions by supporting wildlife preserves or other organizations like conservation organizations, especially the ones that combat illegal wildlife trading or organizations that are about educating,” Lenzi said. “Support some of those. Or people can also donate to our BioPark society, and that money will go toward the animals and different things that they need.”