New Lion Exhibit Planned

A zoo in Grand Rapids, Mich., breaks ground on a $4.1 million habitat this month.

Posted: April 18, 2007, 5 a.m. EST

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(Stock photo)
A Grand Rapids, Mich., zoo will start on a new $4.1 million lion exhibit later this month. (Stock photo)
Officials and supporters of the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids, Mich., said they will break ground in late April on a new $4.1 million lion exhibit that will be one of the largest of its kind in the country.

Bert Vescolani, the zoo director, said the zoo is working to get at least three young lions for the exhibit, which is being built to hold six lions.

The new habitat will feature a forest-like setting rather than the more common open savanna, officials said. The habitat, which is being designed and built with private donations, is the first major step in completing a $75 million to $100 million renovation.

There have been no lions at the Kent County-run zoo since a 16-year-old female had to be euthanized in March 2005 because of her old age. The zoo’s last male lion died in October 2003 at age 14.

Lions typically live about 12 years in zoos and eight years in the wild.

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