African Lion

Meet Kalliope, Malaika, Zari and Rudo, the African lions at the El Paso Zoo! 

The El Paso Zoo is home to four African lions. The three female lionesses, Kalliope, Malaika and Zari were born in November 2007. Rudo, the male lion was born in November 2012. 

African Lions are generally tawny in color. The tuft of the tail is generally black. Young lions have faint brown spots which disappear as they mature. Like with other wild cats, these spots provide camouflage to help protect the young from predators like hyenas. Male African lions can reach 500 pounds and most females (lioness) weigh about 300 pounds. 

Lions live in groups called prides. A pride consists of an extended family unit with as many as 15 related females, their young, and 1-4 resident males. The size of the pride is determined by environmental factors, including the availability of food and water, and how successful they are in raising their young. This social system helps the pride maintain its hunting territory, which is critical to the pride’s long term future.

At the El Paso Zoo, the lions are playful at times and enjoy card board boxes, balls, hard chew toys (e.g. buckets and tires) and novel scents, such as spices and men’s cologne. Similarly to all cats, lions spend a majority of their day relaxing.

Scientists estimate there are less than 30,000 lions left in Africa. The biggest reasons for their decline are: conflict with people and loss of habitat and prey due to human population growth.

Lions live in the savanna and grasslands of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Groups of females usually hunt together for preferred prey species including wildebeest, zebra, Cape buffalo, and various species of antelope. A single female can kill smaller animals, but when they hunt larger animals, like Cape buffalo and kudu, the pride is more successful as a team in cutting off all avenues of escape and to help bring the prey animal to the ground. At the El Paso Zoo, the lions eat red meat.

The El Paso Zoo supports lion guardian Kuresoi ole Purdul. He monitors the Olbili zone in Mbirikani Group Ranch. This zone is a high-conflict area as it adjacent to the Chyulu Hills National Park where there have been several cases of lions being caught in snares or poisoned in the past. 

Lion Guardians is a conservation organization dedicated to finding and enacting long-term solutions for people and African lions to coexist across Kenya and Tanzania. Lion Guardians currently trains and supports a team of more than 80 East Africans who are actively protecting lions covering approximately 1.3 million acres. 


• Lions are the only cats that live in pride groups. 

• Individual lions can be identified by their whisker spot patterns

• Lions are the second largest living cat after tigers

• Lions have excellent eyesight, hearing and sense of smell.