BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Do you hear that roar? A zoo in southwest Michigan is officially welcoming lions in a new exhibit.

Binder Park Zoo’s new lion exhibit officially opened to the public on Tuesday near Battle Creek. The exhibit already includes two female African lions called Shelby and Salem, who came from the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro. A male lion, Enzi, will join them soon from the Racine Zoo in Wisconsin.

Brett Linsley, manager of Wildlife, Conservation and Education, said the female lions have only been at the zoo a few days and are still getting used to the environment.

“We had one of the females come out about 4 feet (1 meter) into the exhibit today for about 10 minutes and she decided she wanted to go back in,” he said.

A core group of zookeepers will be working with the lions, which were trained at their previous home.

The new exhibit is thanks to several donors, including a 13-year-old Kalamazoo girl who raised $30,000.

“I am one of the fortunate people who have been to Tanzania and seen lions in the wild,” said the girl, Yasmin Pirbhai. She said she wants to either be a pediatrician or a veterinarian when she grows up. “And I thought it would be amazing for other kids, other people, who are less fortunate to be able to come and see them in the zoo.”

Binder Park Zoo Board President Susan Baldwin said the zoo gives a financial boost to others.

“We have hundreds of thousands of people who come to this zoo every year and that’s really important to the economy of the city of Battle Creek and all the surrounding area,” Baldwin said. “You bring lots of folks in to visit the zoo, but you also have those folks participating in other things around the community and it’s wonderful.”


This story has been corrected to show the exhibit already has opened, not that it will open Tuesday.

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