Seven ‘unique species’ of lions have died in a zoo park in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, in less than two years. According to local media reports, the lions at the Addis Ababa Zoo Park died during the period the compound closed its doors to visitors for renovation more than a year ago.
“The lions that survived are now so thin that they can’t move from one corner of their cage to the other,” a popular radio station, Sheger FM, reported on Friday. “In addition to the lions, other wild animals in captivity at the zoo park are also suffering from neglect and improper care.”
The state broadcaster, ETV, reported on Friday August 31st that the head of the zoo park has been fired following the disclosure of the lion death. He was fired after Addis Ababa’s new deputy mayor, Takele Uma Banti, visited the park and witnessed the dire conditions.
Sintayehu Biresaw, a resident near the zoo park, told 7Dnews that people started worrying after they stopped hearing the lions roaring. “We then began asking officials what happened to the lions. They didn’t even bother to reply to us so we began contacting city officials and media outlets,” he said.
The zoo park around Addis Ababa’s Sidist Kilo district is the only major zoo that the east African country has. Historical records show it was established in 1940 and has a total area of 1.2 hectares. With the support of the German government, city officials are planning to relocate the zoo in a wider park located east of the capital.
Currently there are only 12 lions in the Addis Ababa Zoo park. It is also home to baboons, lesser kudus and monkeys.
According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Ethiopian lions have thick, dark manes that extend from their heads and necks down to their bellies and they tend to be smaller and more compact.
“An international team of researchers has provided the first comprehensive evidence that these lions are, in fact, genetically distinct from other lions — and extremely rare,” it said in 2012.
Ethiopia has a wide array of fauna and flora but it benefits very little from the tourism sector when compared to Kenya, South Africa and other African countries.