The Texas Zoo is currently home to Aesa & Gaia, which are presumed to be Barbary lions. These girls possibly belong to a subspecies believed to be extinct in the wild.
These social cats are known for their long, dark, shaggy hair and shorter but stockier stature. Males possess a huge mane covering not only their head, neck and shoulders, but also extending behind their shoulders and covering their belly.
They are very large animals with males weighing between 500 to 600 lbs and females 300 to 350 lbs. Their lifespan in the wild is on average less than 15 years but they can survive in captivity up to 30 years. The prey for the Barbary lion is mainly sheep, wild boar, gazelles, and stags but cattle and horses were not out of the question.
The last known wild Barbary lion was shot in the Atlas Mountains in 1922. The subspecies was believed to be extinct in captivity as well, but descendants have been located in zoos and circus populations within the last three decades. These institutions, including The Texas Zoo, are currently working together as part of a species re-population effort to return this incredible subspecies to the wild. Originally, Barbary lions ranged from Morocco to Egypt in Northern Africa.
Some fun facts! Barbary lions are also known as Atlas lion or Nubian lion. Barbary lions are also the largest of the lion subspecies!
Aesa and Gaia, sisters who just celebrated their 5th birthday this February, share an enclosure and have lots of fun together!
Come check them out along with our other animals everyday from 9am-5pm!