The Chicago Zoological Society (C.Z.S.) announced on Wednesday, April 1, A.D. 2020 that four-year-old brother lions Titus and Brutus had arrived at the Brookfield Zoo in west suburban Brookfield, Illinois from Utah’s Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, Utah. They arrived on Tuesday, March 17, A.D. 2020 (Saint Patrick’s Day). The Brookfield Zoo remains closed through Thursday, April 30, A.D. 2020, but the C.Z.S. wanted the public to be aware the lions had arrived. This gives lion-lovers something to look forward to seeing the next time they can visit the zoo. The C.Z.S. had to euthanize Zenda the lion and his mate, Isis the lioness, twelve days apart earlier this year after Zenda’s health declined and Isis fell into a dry moat.
Credit: Brookfield Zoo Caption: This is a short teaser video of sorts introducing Chicagoans to brothers Titus and Brutus, the new lions at the Brookfield Zoo.
The primary way the C.Z.S. has reached out to the public during the pandemic-induced closure has been through the “Bringing the Zoo to You” videos on Facebook Live and the episode on Thursday, April 2, A.D. 2020 Bill Zeigler, Senior Vice President of Animal Programs for the C.Z.S., talked about Brutus and Titus, shared facts about African lions, and answered questions from the public.
If you missed the video and would like to see it now, toy can find it on the Brookfield Zoo’s Facebook Page. I will embed the video below, but if you prefer, you can also find it on the Brookfield Zoo’s YouTube Channel.
Credit: Brookfield Zoo Caption: Bill Zeigler, Senior Vice President of Animal Programs for the Chicago Zoological Society, gives information about Brutus and Titus, as well as general information about African lions in captivity and in the wild.
“Before we had to close the zoo, guests were inquiring as to when we would be getting lions again following the devastating loss of our previous pair,” stated Zeigler. “We wanted to share some happy news during this trying time and are looking forward to when guests can visit the zoo see Brutus and Titus.”
When the Brookfield Zoo re-opens, guests will be able to see the lion brothers along the Big Cat walkway. Born in the same litter on Wednesday, February 24, A.D. 2016, Brutus and Titus have distinguishing features that enable zookeepers and guests to tell them apart.
Brutus has a mane that is long, dark, and straight. His brother’s is shorter, as well as lighter in color and fizzier. Titus is a few inches taller than Brutus. He also has a continuous fringe of dark hair that runs along his body to his belly.
The C.Z.S. stated, “Animal care specialists are still getting to know the lions, but have noticed slight differences in their personalities—Brutus seems to be the calmer of the two, while Titus s more active with enrichment items. The brothers are very bonded and often sleep next to one another.”
The Brookfield Zoo is a participant in the African Lion Species Survival Plan (S.S.P.) maintained by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (A.Z.A.). It was the African Lion S.S.P. that recommended that Brutus and Titus come to the Brookfield Zoo. An S.S.P. is a program designed to manage and conserve the population of a given animal species in captivity at A.Z.A.-accredited zoos and aquariums in North America. The S.S.P. for an animal species treats all of the animals in captivity at North American zoos (and/or aquariums) as a single species and strives to maintain genetic diversity within the population.
North American zoos stopped breeding African lions late in the last century when they came to the realization the African lions were supposedly breeding were actually hybrids that carried the genes of both African lions and Asiatic lions. The zoos resumed breeding in 1996 after importing African lions of certain bloodlines.
In the wild, a lion leaves the pride into which he is born in the hope of either taking over another pride or luring lionesses away from another pride to start his own afresh. It would not be unusual in the wild for a pair of lion brothers to strike out together, so it is not the least bit strange that the Hogle Zoo and Brookfield Zoo, successively, to keep brothers Titus and Brutus together. Eventually, another zoo or zoos will have to send lionesses to the Brookfield Zoo to be their mates or the Brookfield Zoo will have to send them to another zoo or zoos for the purposes of breeding, at which point the Brookfield Zoo would receive replacement lions from another zoo.
“Each plan manages the species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable,” the C.Z.S. stated. “Some recommendations are for breeding a par. In other situations, like in Brutus and Titus’s case, there is a need to locate a zoo that is willing to provide a home for an animal(s) until the SSP program makes a breeding recommendation.”
If one would like to help pay for Brookfield Zoo’s care of Brutus and Titus, one can contribute to the Animal Adoption program. Two options are available. For $35, a recipient receives the Basic Package, which includes 5” x 7” color photograph of either Brutus or Titus, a personalized “certificate of adoption,” a fact sheet on African lions, an “Animal Adoption program decal,” and an invitation to annual “Animal Adoption Evening” (for which a ticket purchase is necessary). The $60 Plush Package includes all of the benefits of the Basic Package, plus an 8” plush lion stuffed animal, and four tickets to the annual “Animal Adoption Evening.” To purchase one of the packages, click here.
African lions are listed as “vulnerable” according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List. The population in the wild continues to decline primarily due to hunting; loss of habitat due to residential, commercial and agricultural development; and the so-called “bushmeat trade.”
Further, the C.Z.S. explicated, “according to the Species Survival Commission, one of the latest threats is the rising demand by traditional Asian medicine. With the decline in tiger populations, the illegal trade for bones and body parts is shifting to lions as an alternative.”
Somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 lions remain in the wild. Over half of them reside in eleven key populations in protected area.
The Chicago Zoological Society (C.Z.S.) is a private, non-profit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. Founded in 1920 and chartered in 1921, the C.Z.S. brought to life the vision of Edith Rockefeller McCormick (1872-1932) to give Chicago a zoo without bars modeled on the Tierpark Hagenbeck, known in English as the Hagenbeck Animal Park, a privately-owned zoo in Hamburg founded in 1907 by Carl Hagenback, Junior (1844-1913). The Brookfield Zoo opened in 1934, during the second year of Chicago’s second World’s Fair, A Century of Progress International Exposition (1933-34).
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