Editor’s Note: The three lion brothers have arrived at our Zoo! We will give them the opportunity to start exploring their habitat starting Sunday, May 1, but our priority is their wellbeing. It’s easy to forget that these big, powerful brothers are still fairly young, and this is a huge transition for them. They will have access to their night houses to use if they feel nervous, so they may not always be visible. Please be patient with our trio as they continue to get used to their new home.
We’re celebrating their arrival with a series of blogposts on their journey to our Zoo. Read on to learn more about their actual move or visit one of our earlier articles to read more about the lion brothers’ history and how we prepared for their arrival.
As you might expect, moving three lions isn’t as simple as placing them in an air-conditioned Motor Coach and heading on the road. This move required the time, resources and cooperation of both our Zoo team as well as Naples Zoo, the facility that cared for the boys from birth. Read on to learn all about the work that went into bringing them to our Zoo.
There’s Always Paperwork
Even before the lion habitat and our animal care team were ready for our lions, our registrar, Sebastian Carcano, was hard at work literally dotting I’s and crossing T’s. Sebastian handles every animal move into or out of our Zoo, and he had been working on the paperwork and logistics necessary for bringing the lions into the Zoo since last year.
Surprisingly, the paperwork is fairly simple since the lions will not be crossing any state or country boundaries. More importantly, the Zoo was already approved to house large felines on account of Brevard Zoo’s history with jaguars and cheetah. Sebastian completed the standard forms needed for any transfer, including a contract between Brevard Zoo and Naples Zoo, paperwork from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and acquired information about the lion’s preferred diet, medical history and favorite toys.
Lions are a Class I Felidae, which requires a special authorization for transport. Our Zoo had to apply for it by submitting logs and proof of previous experience hours that demonstrate an excellent safety record with the animals to get approved. Sebastian is one of three people at our Zoo who has the experience needed to transport lions, so he was among the animal care team who picked them up.
So how do you physically move lions? Each of the lions had their own secure metal carriers with sliding doors and ventilation holes throughout. The lions were able to lay down and stand in them, but the carriers kept them from moving about too much and possibly getting injured during the drive.
“These crates are designed for containment of large, potentially dangerous animals,” Sebastian said. “They are the safest option for transporting these big cats.”
The three lions made their way to our Zoo housed in those secure carriers and carted by a large, air-conditioned cargo truck. Before they even set foot into the carriers, however, a few final goodbyes were said at Naples Zoo.
Rolling Out the Welcome Mat
We can’t tell you how excited the entire Zoo family was when the pickup date for our lions was scheduled! After reading all the nitty-gritty details leading up to this day, it probably doesn’t surprise you that those pickup days were just as intense!
A Brevard Zoo team of curators, keepers, one of our veterinarians, Dr. Kyle Donnelly, and Sebastian went to Naples Zoo. They arrived the day before the move to meet with the animal care team at Naples Zoo to go over the plan on moving day.
The next day, each of the lions was sedated and underwent a full wellness exam while sedated. Once the exams were completed, the lions were moved into their secure carriers and onto the truck. With a last goodbye, our animal care team carefully made their journey back to our Zoo.
Upon arriving at our Zoo, the lions were carefully unloaded from the truck one at a time and released into an individual holding area. They spent a few days getting acclimated to their new space and animal care team before being given access to their habitat.
The lions’ animal care team continues to monitor their well-being in their temporary habitat in Wild Florida. This is a big move for three young lions! They will have access to their night house for now, giving them the option to head out of eyesight if needed. Please be patient with our trio as they continue to get used to their new home.
Brevard Zoo is an independent, not-for-profit organization that receives no recurring government funding for our operating costs. Your generous support enables us to continue to serve our community and continue our vital animal wellness, education and conservation programs.