There's a new lion king in town.

Three-year-old Donovan has moved from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium to join other residents of the Akron Zoo's new Pride of Africa exhibit set to open June 29.

"His mane is growing in and he's still rocking the mohawk of a young lion," Elena Bell, the zoo's marketing and public relations manager, said on the zoo's Facebook page.

Donovan won't be able to hang with the zoo's other male lion — 13-year-old Tamarr — because the two are not related, Bell said

Males don't get along with unrelated males, and females don't want to hang with unrelated females.

But Donovan, who was born at the Columbus Zoo, won't be lonely.

"We'll have two new ladies" that will live with Donovan, Bell said.

This means there actually will be two lion groups, known as prides. One will be made up of Tamarr and Mandisa, a 10-year-old female. Donovan and the two new females will make up the other pride.

"They have a bond," Bell said of Tamarr, who has been with the zoo since 2007, and Mandisa, who arrived in 2013.

There are no immediate plans to breed Donovan with either of the females, though the new Pride of Africa exhibit does have the room for breeding.

Bell explained that zoos have had much success with breeding lions, and the Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is not calling for breeding.

"That could change in the coming years," she said.

The two new females will arrive in time for the June 29 opening of the new exhibit, part of some $17 million in new wildlife areas.

Earlier this year, the zoo revealed it had received a $1.5 million anonymous donation — the largest single contribution in the zoo's history — toward the $17 million for the Pride of Africa and Wild Asia exhibits.

The new Africa section covers about three acres of a hill behind Grizzly Ridge. It's designed to educate visitors about the animals as well as efforts to conserve the species.

An expanded mini-railroad ride will loop through the exhibit.

The Wild Asia exhibit is to open next summer.

Summit County property taxpayers are footing $11 million of the bill for the new exhibits.

 

Reach Katie Byard at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com.