Reid Park Zoo Welcomes Tony the Lion

A new lion is joining the pride at Reid Park Zoo!

Tony is a 5-year-old male lion who comes to Tucson from the San Antonio Zoo, where he was born. He was named by NBA star Tony Parker as part of a charity auction benefiting San Antonio Zoo.

“Tony is a playful and curious lion. He is fun to work with and likes to reach high and stretch to get enrichment items. For example, he has batted down pumpkins with meat treats inside with great skill,” says Hannah Carbonneau, Zoo Keeper.

Tony will be joining the Zoo’s pride of two female lions, Kaya and her daughter, Nayo. Introducing lions to each other requires time and patience, and it may be several weeks or longer before all three lions can be seen together daily.

“Tony will meet the girls slowly first through smelling items they have played with, next watching them through a mesh door, and when they show relaxed behaviors, they will be able to play together,” says Rebecca Edwards, Animal Care Supervisor. “Until then they will take turns being out on habitat.”

Lions are a vulnerable species: Only 20,000 remain from a population of 200,000 a century ago. You can help protect lions like Tony by being an informed consumer and avoiding products made with lion ingredients or artifacts and purchasing sustainable items to protect wild habitats for all animals. Reid Park Zoo has joined Disney and Wildlife Conservation Network’s Lion Recovery Fund in a commitment to help double the number of lions in Africa by 2050.

Moving Tony to Reid Park Zoo was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan®. Lions are the only truly social species of cat, and naturally live in groups called prides. At this time the group at Reid Park Zoo is not recommended to breed, but that could change in the future.

Tony can be visited by guests in person and online on our lion Zoo Cam.