South African teenage lions, Tandie, Mandla and Gandia, will be joining the Oakland Zoo this week, making the zoo one of the rare few that displays an all-male lion coalition.
The three brothers will join the zoo’s resident lion, Leonard, whose sister, Sandy, died last year.
Erin Harrison, spokeswoman for the Oakland Zoo, said that addition of the new lions will be great for guests who really cared about Leonard and Sandy.
“Our guests seemed very affected when Sandy passed away from cancer last year,” Harrison said. “We know that people in the community really love the lions and they’re very excited to see these three new brothers to join the family.”
Right now, the zoo’s main focus is getting the three new lions used to Leonard, as male lions tend to be very competitive in the wild. Darren Minier, the zoological manager, said that the interactions between all the lions is unlike anything they’ve seen before.
“We’ve never had three brothers together before, so it’s a unique management aspect for us,” Minier said. “Since the three new lions are teenagers, they are very playful and energetic. It’s a great dynamic.”
Following the lions’ travel via FedEx in late May, the three brothers were put into Oakland Zoo’s on-site hospital for a 30-day quarantine period, where they were trained to adapt to their new environment with positive reinforcement, so that they would not have to be tranquilized.
The lions, who traveled from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, were transferred because of available space at the Oakland Zoo that Seattle did not have. Additionally, at 18 months, the three brother lions have reached the common age where most cubs leave their parents.
The lions will be on exhibit once they’ve become properly acclimated.
Minier, who has worked closely with the lions since their arrival at the zoo, said that the most exciting part of the process is getting to know each lion individually.
“It’s always fun to learn their different personalities, and it’s interesting to see those personalities change,” Minier said. “Each one of them has a different way of interacting with their environment and their keepers. It’s like watching your own kids and grow and develop.”