• KYW- News At 5/6 PM
    05:00 PM - 06:30 PM

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Today was the public debut for a new female African lion at the Philadelphia Zoo.

Two-year-old Tajiri looked out at her human visitors for the first time, at the Philadelphia Zoo’s “Big Cat Falls” exhibit.   She arrived in Philadelphia from the Racine (Wisc.) Zoo about six weeks ago.

She’ll get to know her new African lion mate, three-year-old Makini.   The plan is to breed them next year.  But first, they have to get to know each other, says lead keeper Kay Buffamonte.

“We’re going to take a series of weeks — it’s a process of steps — in order to introduce them,” Buffamonte tells KYW Newsradio.  “So over the next several weeks to couple months, they’ll start to see each other and then get closer together.  (Then) she can start to have some heat cycles and be ready for breeding beginning this summer.  But it’s going to be a process over the next several months.”

There are four African lions in one pride at the zoo, and the hope is that Tajiri and Makini will hit it off and start another.

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