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|Common Name:||Asian Lion||Family:||Felidae|
|Latin Name:||Panthera leo persica||Diet:||Carnivore|
|Type:||Mammal||Habitat:||Tropical Rainforests, Grasslands|
|Native To:||Asia||Social Unit:||Group|
|IUCN Red List Status:||Endangered|
Asian lions at Edinburgh Zoo
We currently have two Asian lions in our collection at Edinburgh Zoo.
Our female lion, Kamlesh arrived at the Zoo in April 2003 from Chessington World of Adventures and moved into a specially-designed enclosure that was opened in 1999.
In June 2012, Kamlesh was joined by a new young male called Jayendra from Bristol Zoo. Jayendra was born in December 2010 and we hope he will become a mate for Kamlesh when he has fully matured.
Where it can be found at Edinburgh Zoo
The lions can be found in their own purpose-built enclosure toward the top of the Zoo.
Asian lions in the wild
Many years ago, the Asian lion (Panthera leo persica) had large populations across southwest Asia. Today, there is only a very small remnant population located in India’s Gir Forest. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), there are only about 175 mature Asian lions left in the wild.
The Asian lion differs from the African lion in several ways. Asian lions are generally smaller than their African cousins, and the males do not develop such a substantial mane, so their ears are more visible. Both species of lions live in groups called prides; however, the Asian pride is smaller. An Asian lion pride usually has two lionesses and cubs, while the African pride has four to six adult females. Asian males do not spend much time with their prides unless it is to feed or breed.
Asian lions live on a diet of deer, antelope, wild boar and water buffalo. All of the lionesses in the pride hunt together to overpower their prey. Males hardly ever hunt, but will assist the females if they are hunting a large, aggressive animal. Regardless of whether the male has helped or not, he always gets to eat first.
Because the Asian lion now exists as an isolated population, the species is vulnerable to a number of threats from unpredictable events such as forest fires or epidemics. Poaching is another threat to this species; 34 Asian lions were reported killed by poachers in 2007. Habitat destruction, conflict with humans and domestic cattle, and declining numbers of prey animals present yet more threats to this highly vulnerable species. As a result, the IUCN has classified the Asian lion as Endangered, meaning that the species faces a very high risk of extinction in the wild.
Strict guidelines prevent zoos from maintaining both African and Asian lions for fear of disease transmission or potential hybridisation. It is only now that African lions are no longer held at Edinburgh Zoo that we have been able to receive this endangered species.
Breeding programme category: EEP
IUCN Red List category: Endangered
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