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Zoo welcomes 16-month-old lion Pelo | Arts & Culture

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Zoo welcomes 16-month-old lion Pelo
Zoo welcomes 16-month-old lion Pelo

Madison's Henry Vilas Zoo welcomed a new lion to its pride at an event Thursday morning. 

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi's office said Pelo (pronounced PEA-low) is a 16-month-old male African lion who joins the zoo from Seattle. 

The zoo's other lion, female Shakura, will exhibit with Pelo as a pair after they get to know each other and the weather warms, according to the zoo. Pelo arrived at the zoo months ago but was announced Thursday to the media during an event at the zoo, 702 S. Randall Ave.

“We really look forward to a number of years with Pelo and Shakura, and look forward to the day when they can get together and start producing their own cubs to continue to help our species preservation,” Parisi said.

Pelo and Shakura were paired by the conservation group the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Lion Species Survival Plan. The group arranges matches to help produce the healthiest, most genetically sound offspring possible for the long-term health of the whole population, zoo Director Ronda Schwetz said. 

"We hope that the community enjoys watching our young lion pair grow, mature, and hopefully produce cubs together," Schwetz said. 

Alison Prange, executive director of Friends of the Zoo, said that during the Day of Giving Campaign in December, the zoo raised the $10,000 needed to bring Pelo to Madison from Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo. 

"A huge thank you goes out to all the supporters of the zoo," Prange said in a news release. "Our community’s support is vital to our zoo, and its animals."

Pelo's name means "heart" in Sotho, a Bantu language spoken primarily in South Africa. 

Henry Vilas Zoo is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. All animal buildings are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

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