The mane attraction

By Amelia DeVivo
Dakota (Photo by Amelia Devivo)

Potter Park Zoo welcomes young African lion

It seems that most people are trying to forget the Lions right now. But here in Lansing, we’re welcoming one. Meet Dakota, Potter Park Zoo’s newest lion. The one and a half year-old lion was bred in captivity and transferred from the North Carolina Zoo to the Ft. Wayne, Ind. Children’s Zoo to join Potter Park’s endangered species breeding program.

Dakota is named after cancer victim, Dakota Gauldin. The 16-year-old from North Carolina lost his four-year battle with the disease in March 2007.

Following zoo protocol, Dakota spent 30 days in quarantine before joining the other Potter Park lions. He resides in the zoo’s Feline and Primate House with two female African lions, 19-year-old Amboseli and 2-year old Mashavu. Other dwellers of the house include tigers, lemurs, monkeys and snow leopards.

Potter Park Zoo participates in the Species Survival Plan, which manages the healthy breeding of different species. The coordinators of the plan are hoping that Dakota and Mashavu will mate. “All kids and parents will be overwhelmed to see babies from these threatened, exotic big cats,” Zoo Director Gerry Brady said, “and the offspring will help to reinforce wild populations so they do not go extinct.”

The Potter Park Zoo is home to over 100 species of animals, many of which are threatened or endangered. The zoo is soon expecting to grow with the addition of a snow leopard, a red panda and a number of poison arrow dart frogs.