A pride of lions sits atop a rock outcropping, watching as giraffes, rhinos, and a herd of antelope mingle on the rolling hills of the East Africa plains. Cameras in hand, a group of people edge closer to the “Lion Camp,” never having been this close to the big cats before. It’s an unforgettable experience at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park.
Lion Camp is the newest exhibit at the Wild Animal Park. Opened October 2004, this 1-acre (0.4- hectare) naturalistic exhibit immerses visitors within the lion pride’s territory. The first leg of the adventure is a stop at an observation station built into the crevice of a kopje, a rock outcropping where the lion pride might nestle among the boulders. The kopje is a popular lion lounging spot on cool days because heated rocks are near the window; on warm days, the rocks are a cool place to rest while thorny acacia trees provide shade for the big cats. The lions are separated from visitors by a laminated, tempered glass panel 40 feet (12 meters) long, giving the exhibit a unique feeling of being in an African savanna.
The Wild Animal Park's former lion enclosure is being refurbished to provide space for a breeding pride of lions. In Africa, wild lions are facing tremendous pressure with habitat destruction, hunting by poachers, and death by disease threatening their existence. The Park is committed to raising awareness about the plight of the lion by showcasing the species in the new Lion Camp habitat, and is dedicated to rejuvenating the North American lion population through a breeding and conservation program sanctioned by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association’s Species Survival Plan.
Kid Territory: Lions Profile