Beastly Beat
Gunther & Tallukah the African Lions

Both Gunther and Tallukah were examples of "exotic pets gone bad", and both were in a rehabilitation center in Tennessee in 1995 when the Alexandria Zoo's search began for African lions to replace our beloved pair, Tuffy and Tanya, that passed away. Gunther and Tallukah were 7 and 8 months old when they arrived. The Zoo staff has watched the two mature and grow, and become parents to three litters (five cubs) during the late 1990's. Although we were fortunate to find all cubs good homes in zoos (from Canada to Alabama), this isn't always easy when dealing with animals that are plentiful in zoos.

How can you tell them apart? Gunther, the male lion, has a long mane.

Lions live in a group of animals called a pride, which is controlled by a dominant female. The lionesses (mothers, sisters, and cousins) live and work together to raise their cubs. This allows them all to get the most from their energy, keeping them healthier and safer. A few unrelated adult males also will live with the lionesses in the pride.

Once or twice a year, the lions at the Alexandria Zoo receive a deer hide as a special treat. The deer hide is hidden in the yard by zookeepers so the lions have to hunt for it. Tallukah is always the first to grab it, and will run and play with it before she eats it. Gunther doesn't compete for it. He waits until she is finished and eats the rest.

Gunther and Tallukah share their large, natural exhibit in the African Experience, which features rock formations and a waterfall. Both lions love to lie on the rocks in the exhibit and sometimes Tallukah can be seen lying on top of the safari jeep in the exhibit. On rainy days, the lions don't always like to go out in the yard. Gunther will go inside the African hut were visitors can see him through a large viewing window.

Click here to learn more about African Lions.