Later this month The Maryland Zoo will say goodbye to young lioness Leia, who along with her sibling Luke, was born here in October 2013. Leia will be joining a new pride of lions at the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas. “It’s a bittersweet moment for us at the Zoo,” said Don Hutchinson, president/CEO of the Zoo. “Watching Luke and Leia grow and thrive under the care of our animal care staff has been enormously rewarding. Together with their adopted sibling Zuri and father Hassan, they have created such a dynamic pride and have engaged thousands of visitors from their first forays into the yard. We knew the moment might come when she would move to become part of another pride, and we are sorry to see her leave.”

Leia’s new chapter: Q & A WITH Carey Ricciardone

Born: October 4, 2013

Sex: Female

Weight: Approximately 3.74 lbs at birth, currently weighs 278 lbs

Name: Leia

Siblings: Luke born in the same littler and adopted sister Zuri

History at the Zoo:
Luke and Leia’s mother, Badu was 3 ½ years old and father, Hassan was 6 at the time of the cubs’ birth. Sadly, there were complications relating to the birth and Badu died a few days after the cubs were born. Keepers stepped in to hand raise the cubs. The cubs thrived and two months later, the Association of Zoos &Aquariums (AZA) Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP) asked if we could take in a 3rd cub, Zuri, age 3 months. Zuri was being hand-reared at Zoo Miami, but needed to be placed in a better social situation so she could grow up with cubs her own age. Zuri arrived in December of 2013 and became part of the Zoo’s lion pride

Why is Leia leaving the Zoo? Leia is maturing and needs to become part of a pride of lions where she is not related to the others. The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP) has identified a new home for her where she will be placed with other non-related lions.

When will she be leaving? She will be leaving the week of November 15.*

When can I see her on exhibit before she leaves? The female and male lions are currently separated and alternating exhibit times. Leia and Zuri will be on exhibit Nov 6 , 7, 9, 11, 13, 14 (until 3:30), 15 (until 3:30), 17. All week before she leaves you will also have a chance to sign a farewell banner that will travel with Leia to her new home. All exhibit times are subject to change.

Where is she going? Leia will be going to live with two other lions at the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas. The pride at Cameron Park Zoo is made up of an older female named Shamfa and a young male, Kaikane (ky-kaw-nay) who will turn 3 years old in December.

Will she be a part of a breeding program? Currently she is joining the pride at Cameron Park to be a social part of their pride. Lions mature at around four years of age and there are no breeding recommendations at this time.

How will she travel to the Cameron Park Zoo? Leia will travel by truck in a specialized travel crate. The trip should take approximately 24 hours with several stops to provide food and water. She will be traveling with a team of senior staff members from the Cameron Park Zoo.

Will she miss Luke, Zuri and Hassan? We expect that she will have an adjustment period getting used to new faces and eventual introduction to the lions in her new pride. However the staff at the Cameron Park Zoo has ample expertise with lions and we expect she will settle in to the African Lion Habitat in short order.

* The exact timing of Leia’s departure has not yet been determined. We will endeavor to keep a schedule of viewing times for Leia on our website will update going forward until her departure.

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