The 12-year-old male lion Jafar has been sent back to a zoo in France, Wildlands Adventure Zoo Emmen in the Netherlands said on Thursday. The zoo decided to send the animal back because introducing Jafar to the lionesses at the park resulted in fights and the death of one of the lionesses, the sixteen-year-old Tia.
“The introduction process between the lion and the lionesses in the park was very difficult, and that is why the animals had been living separately for several months,” the zoo said in a statement, adding that living alone is not healthy for a lion.
In August, lion Jafar arrived at the Dutch zoo from Réserve Africaine de Sigean in France. The zoo hoped he would mate with one of the females. But introducing Jafar to the lionesses at Wildlands was problematic and resulted in a deadly fight in September when zoo personnel found the lifeless body of Tia.
After this incident, the male lion was kept separate from the lionesses. “We don’t want to risk a repeat,” said zoo director Van Engelen then. In the end, Wildlands managed to arrange for Jafar to return to the French park he came from.
A Wildlands vet sedated Jafar, and after health checks, he was placed in a transport box and eventually transported to France. The zoo says that the transport from Emmen went smoothly and that the lion has arrived safely in France.
Introducing lions to each other in zoos can be a complex process that requires careful planning and management. Typically, the introduction process starts with a period of separation where the lions can see and smell each other without physical contact.
Next, the lions are gradually introduced to each other in a controlled environment, such as a shared enclosure with a barrier that allows them to see and smell each other without being able to interact physically. This enables the lions to continue establishing their hierarchy and social bonds.
Once the lions have become accustomed to each other’s presence and have established a hierarchy, they may be allowed to interact physically under close supervision. The introduction process can take several weeks or even months.
In 2021, the introduction of a male animal also went wrong at Wildlands. The zoo hoped introducing male rhinoceros Limpopo to the fertile females Elena and Zhara would result in baby rhinoceroses. But when meeting, the females fled, with Elena slipping into the water and drowning.