SALINE COUNTY —Rolling Hills Zoo is mourning the loss of one of the zoo’s iconic and beloved species, Motomba, an African lion, who had to be humanely euthanized on Friday due to complications from a long-term illness., according to a media release.
“He was a marvelous ambassador for his kind and helped stimulate the conservation of this endangered species,” said Bob Jenkins, Executive Director of Rolling Hills Zoo.
Born in captivity in 1997, Motomba and his brother Simba arrived at Rolling Hills Zoo in 1998. As cubs they were introduce to Torrey, a female lion and original resident of the zoo’s main barn. Motomba, Simba and Torrey moved into the new Lion Exhibit at Rolling Hills Zoo in July 2000. Motomba outlived his brother Simba who died in June 2016.
Just shy of his 22nd birthday on March 30, Motomba lived well passed the expected lifetime of a wild African lion, who seldom live longer than 15 years, and the median age for male lions in captivity is 20 -25 years old. Neither Motomba nor Simba produced any offspring.
Motomba, a beloved member of the Rolling Hills Zoo family, could be heard by visitors throughout the park chuffing along with an occasion roar as a way to express a greeting or excitement with his keepers. As a non-threatening vocalization, staff members always enjoyed hearing Motomba’s chuffing throughout the day.
Powerful and majestic, lions once roamed most of African and parts of Asia and Europe. Today they are found only in parts of sub-Saharan African, except for one very small population of lions in India’s Gir Forest. Lions have no natural predators, but due habitat loss, conflicts with people and poaching, African lion numbers have plummeted by more than 40 percent in the last three generations, and with only about 20,000 in the wild they are now listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Redlist (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
The staff at Rolling Hills Zoo will be working with the SSP (Species Survival Plan) of the AZA (Association of Zoo and Aquariums) to secure a new lion(s) for Rolling Hills Zoo in the future