News from Lion Territory

Posted by: Jenny Middleton
Posted on: 14th February 2019
Posted in: Animals

Knowsley Safari is sad to announce the loss of our seven year old male lion, Mojo.

During routine morning checks on Tuesday 12 February, keepers discovered Mojo had sustained injuries. These were as a result of a fight with the females in the pride which is not uncommon within a mixed sex group and is a part of natural, lion behaviour.

Our expert vet team worked swiftly to give pain relief to Mojo and examined him under anaesthetic, however, he died while recovering which a post mortem revealed was due to injuries not visible on external examination.

Mojo was a very popular lion with both visitors and keepers. Both he and his brother Scooter had been successfully integrated with the pride of females for 1.5 years.

We have tried to answer as many questions that you may have as possible below. If you have any questions that aren’t answered here please feel free to email us on safari.park@knowsley.com

 

Questions and Answers

How old was Mojo?

Mojo was seven years old.

Why did this happen?

This behaviour is something that naturally happens in the wild. Lions live in a pride comprising of related females who remain members of a pride long-term. Male lions become a member of the pride because the females accept him as such. As a result, the life of a male lion is much more socially precarious than that of the females. The lion has to win the grace of the females to become their pride male. Conflict is a normal part of lion social behaviour. In most instances these are superficial scratches and cuts, in rare events more severe injuries can be sustained.

What injuries did Mojo sustain and how did he die?

Fighting in the pride occurred overnight and when keepers checked on them in the morning, it was obvious that Mojo’s visible injuries required medical attention

He died whist recovering from the anaesthetic and the post mortem revealed this was the most humane outcome as he would not have recovered from other injuries which were not immediately visible without a post mortem examination.

Could he have been saved by the vet?

Sadly not. The post mortem report revealed muscular injuries not visible without post mortem which likely caused high levels of toxicity, he would not have recovered.

This happened overnight, where were the lions and could this have been prevented?

The lions were in their enclosure with both indoor and outdoor access. The lions must live as a pride and cannot be separated at night.

Are any of the other lions injured?

No other lions were injured

Does this incident place Scooter in greater danger now, as the only male within the second pride?

The life of a male lion is precarious but Scooter has a strong position in the pride and all behavioural signs have been positive.  He will of course continue to be monitored closely along with the rest of the pride.

Is this attack indicative of big cats in captivity? How likely is it that this would happen in their natural habitat?

Attacks on pride males can, and do, happen regularly in the wild. Lions live in a pride comprising of related females who remain members of a pride long-term. Male lions become a member of the pride because the females accept him as such. As a result, the life of a male lion is much more socially precarious than that of the females. The lion has to win the grace of the females to become their pride male.

Did the keepers see any warning signs?

The pride had shown some signs of conflict towards Mojo but nothing extensive so they were being closely monitored. Conflict is natural with lions and can be resolved by the pride in some cases. Separating Mojo would have meant he may have had to spend the rest of his life alone and attempting to mix him with another pride would likely have resulted in the same fate.

How often are the lions monitored?

The welfare of the animals living at Knowsley Safari is always our primary concern. All animals are monitored first thing in the morning and throughout the day by our expert keepers, with a final check taking place as the safari park closes.

What are the next steps with regards to the lions remaining in the enclosure?

The team are very experienced with working with lions. They will continue to monitor the pride dynamic as they always have, working closely with the park veterinarian.

Article by: Jenny Middleton

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