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Best Lion Exhibits in the US

Discussion in 'United States' started by GraysonDP, 16 Jun 2015.

  1. GraysonDP

    GraysonDP Well-Known Member

    24 May 2015
    Washington DC
    For the king of beasts, I feel lions often get the short end of the stick when it comes to megafauna exhibits. I've seen many great tiger and cheetah exhibits but at quite a few major zoos (San Diego, Fort Worth, Lincoln Park, National, Los Angeles, Detroit) I've seen substandard lion exhibits. Also, there hasn't seemed to be much of a push for them to have spacious exhibits. This is sad because as social, powerful animals watching lions in naturalistic environments and at close range is one of the most rewarding zoo experiences. Of the zoos I've been to, here are my favorites:
    1. San Diego Safari Park- This one is truly one-of-a-kind and its rocky terrain looks straight out of Africa. It's well designed to meet the social, psychological, and enrichment needs of the pride and is filled with immersive details from the rocks to the trees to the elevation. Lion Camp is one of my favorite all-time exhibits at any zoo and it is truly state-of-the-art.
    2. Busch Gardens- While SDSP has the better exhibit(but not by much), this one might have the best viewing opportunities. The glass windows provide visitors an excellent view of the lions and are often less than an inch away from them. The enclosure is large and well designed although the drawback is you can see a roller coaster in the background. The hyena exhibit next to it is also top-notch.
    3. Columbus Zoo- At this one, the lions look like they are roaming with the giraffes and zebras. The hidden moat is extremely subtle and hard to spot. The space is very green and the fallen trees provide a nice touch of naturalism.
    4. Dallas Zoo- While not the largest lion exhibit, this one is rather immersive and rocky. The viewing windows provide a good view into the exhibit. It's also good for enrichment opportunities.
    5. Cincinnati Zoo- The new African exhibits at the Cincinnati Zoo have not been drawing the attention they deserve, since they are slowly sneaking the quality of the zoo's exhibits up with the best. The new exhibit makes good use of water and grass to create a nice habitat for the lions. Almost every inch of the exhibit has the lions touching something natural. It also gives good viewing and enrichment opportunities. The white lion exhibit is older and has an ugly fence around it but is still good enough.
    6. Animal Kingdom- I've always found the lion exhibit to be one of the less impressive part of Kilimanjaro Safaris, perhaps because the lions are almost never close to the vehicles and usually confined to the rocks. Unlike species like giraffes and rhinos, big cats are not well suited to being viewed on vehicles, monorails, etc. because their behavior begs to be closely observed. However, this above average sized enclosure is nicely detailed and complete with a kopje.
    7. Memphis Zoo- A very good exhibit for the big cats. This one is nicely shaded and naturalistic.
    8. Pittsburgh Zoo- One of the more naturalistic lion exhibits. It gives the lions good opportunities to jump and play.
    9. Bronx Zoo- A revolutionary exhibit at displaying herbivores and carnivores side by side when it opened in 1940, this enclosure holds up pretty well today, even if other lion exhibits are more naturalistic and let the guests come closer to the cats. The zoo displays a large family and they have a nice overlook.
    10. Philadelphia Zoo- Meticulously designed exhibit that is built with the cats needs in mind.
  2. ZooElephantsMan

    ZooElephantsMan Well-Known Member

    19 Apr 2015
    I do not like any of the lion exhibits at the cincinnati zoo because they are all small.

    I think the lion exhibits at the Bronx zoo and at the SDZSP are really phenomenal.