Pauline when she was a cub (left), and the 2-year-old lioness in 2023 | Credit: Courtesy S.B. Zoo

Pauline, the Santa Barbara Zoo’s 2-year-old African lioness, is moving to a new zoo this weekend, the zoo announced this week.

Born at the Santa Barbara Zoo in November 2020, Pauline is being transferred to Zoo Boise in Idaho now that she is “mature enough to contribute to a pride of her very own,” according to a statement released by the zoo on social media Tuesday announcing the “paw-sitively exciting news.”

“The Santa Barbara Zoo is one of more than 220 accredited zoos and aquariums that participate in Species Survival Plans (SSP), a cooperative conservation program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA),” the statement explains, and Pauline’s transfer is part of the program’s effort to “maximize genetic diversity and manage the long-term sustainability of species.”

According to the zoo, Pauline’s mother and father, Felicia and Ralph, will remain in town “for the foreseeable future.” In response to comments from the community expressing concern about the family being separated, the zoo released a follow-up statement on Thursday explaining that zookeepers have been conducting “separation training” with Pauline and her parents for about a year now in anticipation of her move to another facility.

The training consisted of “short sessions in which Pauline has been inside by herself while her parents were outside and vice versa” and “were constantly monitored for excessive stress indicators.” Based on the success of the training and other lion transfers, the zoo says it expects that “Pauline as well as her parents will adjust to her move quickly and without excessive stress.”


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