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August 18, 2015 > World Lion Day calls for compassion and conservation

World Lion Day calls for compassion and conservation

By Denny Stein

It was a hot and dry July in Crockett, Texas. Responding to a warrant for suspicious activity police entered a suspects property and found 14 exotic cats and a wolf. The owner had treated the animals cruelly, depriving them of food, care, and shelter. Two of the cats were four-month-old cubs; they were dehydrated, flea ridden, and their coats were patchy and dry. Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) was alerted, seized all the animals and took custody of them. The Houston SPCA provided the animals with housing and veterinary care while contacting zoos to find them a home.

In August 2000, the cubs arrived in Oakland via Continental Airlines, who generously donated their transportation. If you take the Sky Ride at Oakland Zoo and fly over the Lion Exhibit you will see Sandy and Leonard lounging below in the woodsy plain that is their home. Safe from the guns of hunters and the snares of poachers, Sandy and Leonard have been at the zoo for 15 years. While their beginnings in the exotic animal trade would have meant a life of tragic cruelty, they are now enjoying life in a safe and forever home.

Cecil, a rare black-mane lion, killed in Zimbabwe on July 1, 2015, lived in Hwange National Park. He had been protected, tracked, and studied for many years by the University of Oxford. The outcry over his death by a game hunter has been loud and viral, cascading through the portals of the web, arousing anger and indignation. The news has propagated not only outrage, but stories and conversations have widened to cover conservation, foreign governments and corruption, American import laws, airline transportation, and the fate of lions as their numbers diminish.

The wave of sadness and anger over the death of Cecil the lion from Zimbabwe demonstrates the compassion that the world can feel when they learn about the plight of a single animal, said Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Director at Oakland Zoo. The incident also demonstrates the actions people are willing to take to make change. Our Lion Appreciation Day will focus on learning about lions and their conservation challenges while offering opportunities to turn that compassion into action. We can make a difference for lions all over the world and look forward to sharing that mission with our guests.

Lion Appreciation Day is your chance to learn more about the worldÕs biggest cats both globally and right here in your own neighborhoods. You may be sharing your habitat with a mountain lion or a puma. In which case, the more you know about your earthmates the safer you, and they, will be.

On Saturday, August 22 you can get to know lions better by enjoying face painting, making paw print crafts, taking a lion Òselfie,Ó zookeeper chats, watching lions feast on treats, and talking to hosts from three conservation partners Ð Bay Area Puma Project (, Uganda Carnivore Program (, and Mountain Lion Foundation ( The zoo also supports Ewaso Lions in Kenya (

While a popular and iconic animal, the lion is becoming a threatened species. World Lion Day events happen every August around the world to draw attention to their plight and promote conservation.

Oakland Zoo is an amazing partner for all lions Ð throughout Africa and locally in California, said Monica Tyler, Director, Uganda Carnivore Program. ÒWe could not continue our African lion conservation work in Uganda without Oakland ZooÕs support of our scientific research and community-based conservation activities. We truly appreciate their partnership, which has had a significant positive impact on both the lion and the human communities in Uganda.Ó

This program is free with regular admission. For more information about Lion Appreciation Day and World Lion Day, visit

Lion Appreciation Day
Saturday, Aug 22
10 a.m. Ð 3 p.m.
Oakland Zoo
(Flamingo Plaza & Lion Decks)
9777 Golf Links Rd, Oakland
(510) 632-9525 x227
General admission: $17.75 adults, $13.75 seniors (65-75) & children (2-14), 76+ & under 2 are free
Parking: $9

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