Get ready to roar the names of the three male lion cubs born January 9! The cubs were named in partnership with several Ilchokuti (Ill-cho-koo-tee) or “lion guardians” who are Maasai community members that work in Tanzania alongside Lincoln Park Zoo’s partner, KopeLion.
Based in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of Tanzania, the Ilchokuti selected the names for the growing pride at the zoo’s Pepper Family Wildlife Center. The names of the lion cubs are Pesho (pe-sho), Sidai (see-dye), and Lomelok (low-mey-lock) which all have their own special meanings in the Maa language.
Pesho translates to an unexpected gift, while Sidai, means good like “good food” or “good lion” and Lomelok means sweet.
“These are more than little lion cubs,” said Vice President of Conservation and Science Sunny Nelson. “They represent hope for the future, a commitment to saving lions in the wild, and also the local communities who are doing this work every day.”
The goal of Lincoln Park Zoo and conservation partner KopeLion is to foster human-lion coexistence in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in northern Tanzania and create a corridor allowing safe movement of lions to and from the greater Serengeti ecosystem. This is a critical place for lion conservation as lions face severe declines across most of their range. KopeLion works with communities to promote tolerance of lions, and is testing a strategy of rewarding communities financially for achieving lion conservation goals, such as increased lion presence on their land.
“Pesho, Sidai, and Lomelok remind us that we are all connected and need to work together to build a future where humans and wildlife coexist,” said Vice President of Animal Care and Horticulture Maureen Leahy. “From the zoo’s animal care team, and zoo and partner scientists to communities around the globe like the Maasai in Tanzania or anyone who has tuned into #lionwatch – lions are depending on us to help preserve them.”
Leahy continued, “While the cubs aren’t ready for the outside world quite yet, we are honored to be able to share the lion cubs with the public at Pepper Family Wildlife Center this spring.”
Lincoln Park Zoo Members will be among the first to catch a glimpse of the cubs at Pepper Family Wildlife Center during a member-only preview. Not yet a member? Visit lpzoo.org/membership to join.
African lions are large predators that can weigh up to 500 pounds. Males are larger than females and can be distinguished by their mane, which surrounds their head and extends to their chest. Lions are a social species that live in prides. African lions are considered vulnerable, and numbers have declined by 50 percent over the last 25 years due to habitat loss, loss of prey, and human-lion conflict. Lions can be found in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and its habitat ranges from forests to shrublands and grasslands.
Lincoln Park Zoo gratefully acknowledges the Pepper Family and the TAWANI Foundation for their lead support of Pepper Family Wildlife Center. Additional support was provided by the Kovler Family.
The zoo will continue to post regular #LionWatch updates on its Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter channels as the cubs continue to grow and get ready for their big debut at Pepper Family Wildlife Center this spring!