A new lion has been added to the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro and his name is Haji. He’s a 400-pound, 3-year-old male and the new companion for the zoo’s 13-year-old female Mekita.

Mekita’s last mate, 23-year-old Reilly, passed away in August. That left Mekita as the only lion in the zoo. 

Lions are social big cats and need to be around others to be happy and content. This is why Haji is being introduced. He comes from the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans and arrived in Asheboro last December.  Zoo officials said this week that interactions between the two are going well so far. 

African lions are listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with populations decreasing due to habitat loss and poaching. It is estimated that fewer than 40,000 lions live in the wild.

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