A New Pride Roars in the East End of Abilene

Posted: April 28, 2021 | 1:11 pm

Abilene, Tx -The Abilene Zoo is excited to announce the arrival of three lions from the Fort Worth Zoo.

One male and two female lions have temporarily relocated from the Fort Worth Zoo to Abilene. Animal Care Staff will care for the new pride for approximately two years while the Fort Worth Zoo builds a redesigned lion habitat projected to open in Spring 2023.

The male lion is named Jabulani, and the two females are Abagebe and Saba, with all three lions being nine years old. They will all be on exhibit beginning Friday, November 27.

“Be prepared for the rumbling of lion roars to be heard all around the east end of Abilene,” said General Curator Denise Ibarra. “The zoo is excited to now have four lions, including Botswana, our resident 18-year-old male.” 

The Zoo had to make minor modifications to the original lion and tiger exhibits, which were built when the zoo opened in 1966. Construction workers chiseled through more than five feet of concrete rock wall separating the habitats and creating a pass-through tunnel. 

“The maintenance team built two-tiered platforms for the lions to climb on and lounge in the sun,” said Maintenance Manager Roy Greer. “So far, Botswana has enjoyed the view. We hope the new lions will as well.”

Interior dens were extended and connected to provide a comfortable location for training and shelter during the cold or hot months in West Texas.

“These modifications are a temporary solution, but in the future, we hope that with the community’s support, we can build a new lion habitat,” stated Zoo Director Jesse Pottebaum. “Bringing these lions from Fort Worth will allow the citizens of Abilene to envision having our own large Pride once again.” 

About Abilene Zoo 

Abilene Zoo was founded in 1966 as a collaborative partnership between the City of Abilene and the Abilene Zoological Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving wildlife and protecting wild places. Through its passion and expertise in animal care, conservation, and education, the Abilene Zoo’s mission is a place of learning and adventure where people make memories, share in the joy of discovery, and become inspired to save wildlife. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums since 1985, this West Texas Zoo sees 129 school districts from over 51 Texas counties in addition to over a quarter of a million guests each year. To learn more, visit


Please contact the Abilene Zoo at 325.676.6085 for additional information about the facility, including special events and activities for visitors and its ongoing commitment to wildlife conservation and science education.

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