One of Cork’s most popular family attractions has welcomed an imposing new addition to Fota Island. Shanto is a male Asiatic lion who has arrived at Fota Wildlife Park from Spain, and joins the two female lions, Gita and Gira, who both arrived earlier in the year.
The lions are the latest addition to a number of critically endangered species now occupying the new Lion Habitat of the park’s popular Asian Sanctuary. The sanctuary also includes a Sumatran tiger, an Indian rhino, the leaf monkey Francois langur and Visayan warty pigs. The Asiatic Lions form part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme and it is hoped that the lions will breed in the future at the Wildlife Park on Fota Island.
Sean McKeown, director of Fota Wildlife Park said: “The wildlife park hopes to contribute to the captive breeding programme for the Asiatic Lion, one of the world’s most endangered big cats. The population of almost 200 Asian lions within zoo’s and parks form an essential safeguard and genetic resource.”
The African and Asian Lion may seem to have many similarities in appearance, but differ in many ways. Asian lions tend to be slightly smaller than African lions, and usually have shorter, shaggier coats, with a longer tassel on the end of the tail and longer tufts of hair on the elbows compared to their African cousins.