El Paso, Texas (KTSM) — The El Paso Zoo & Botanical Gardens says they are receiving a generous donation from the Downtown Lions Club for new enrichment toys for the lions.

The zoo will have a check presentation and unveil new animal enrichment items at the lion exhibit on Thursday, Nov. 3, at 10:30 a.m. Zookeepers will be utilizing the new enrichment toys to assist with the lion breeding process.

The zoo says their male lion, Hodari, arrived at the El Paso Zoo on Nov. 8, 2021, and is slated to breed with one of the two female lions. His transfer to the zoo was made possible by
the El Paso Downtown Lions Club who held a pecan fundraiser to secure a $5,000
donation. The Lion’s Club has gone a step further and donated an additional $2,000 to
purchase lion enrichment toys for the exhibit.

The El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens says Hodari joined his fellow African lionesses, Zari and Malaika, as part of a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). The SSP’s mission is to conserve species such as the African lion.

“The hope is that when Hodari is out and plays with these items the female lions will follow him and they will exchange scents and accept him into the pride. The introduction and integration of these powerful animals is a slow process that takes time and at this time the female lions do not like Hodari. Hopefully these enrichment items provide by the Downtown Lions Club will help speed up that process.”

Joe Montisano, El Paso Zoo Director

President of the Downtown Lions Club Marc Aimklov said, “We hope these new enrichments can help with the lion introductions and eventually we will have a lion cub for the Zoo and the citizens of El Paso.”

For local and breaking news, sports, weather alerts, video and more, download the FREE KTSM 9 News App from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.