Josie and Jasiri are King and Queen of Dartmoor Zoo. Josie was born here and Jasiri came to join her as her companion following the death of her father Solomon. After a long introduction process they were finally introduced which went extremely well. They've settled in together and really love each others company, although Josie is most definitely the boss!
Josie is extremely clever and the keepers are always coming up with new ideas for enrichment for her to solve. She is also very agile and her food is often put up a tree so that she has to work to get it. Jasiri on the other hand is not agile, and has to be let out first to find his food which is easily placed for him to find before Josie gets there!
Jasiri's name mean 'courageous' in Swahili which resonated with all the Team here at the Zoo due to it's story of coming back from the brink of closure and the trials to keep the Zoo open.
It was important for us to find Josie a mate after her father died, as lions are the most social of big cats, living in groups called prides. These groups are also family groups, and will usually in the wild consist of up to 3 males and around 12 females and their young. All the females in the group will be related, and new prides are formed when the young males leave and establish their own prides by taking over another male's pride. You may assume that the male is the hunter of the group, but it's actually the lionesses that are the primary hunters, working together to get food. As well as hunting, lions are actually great scavengers, and will prefer to do this than hunt if they can. You'll often find that lion food has actually been killed by hyenas and the lions just stole it!
In the wild, a male will only live for around 10-14 years, due to their fighting with other males, but in captivity they can be expected to live for up to 20. Lions are second only in size to Tigers, which you can also see here at the Zoo to compare their size and characteristics.
Sadly the numbers of lions in the wild has decreased dramatically over the last few decades, and they can not live outside of designated national parks or reserves due to hunting.
Here's a video of Jasiri having some enrichment prepared by our Keepers and some people on a Big Cat Keeper for a Day experience.
Fancy getting close with a big cat?
For those aged over 16 and you could be a Big Cat Keeper for a Day which involves joining the Keepers on their rounds of the big cats and other carnivores and feeding either the lions or the tigers...!