The Whangarei Lion Park is under new ownership and due to remodelling of the enclosures still closed in the 2017 summer season. It also changed its name to Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary - stay tuned for more, it's worth waiting!
Zion is the original big male lion who featured as Aslan in the Narnia films, but since then around 30 other cats have joined the group. Not just any big cats, but mostly rare White Lions, Barbary Lions and White Tigers. There are also Bengal Tigers, two Cheetahs and a Black Leopard. Most of them were hand-reared by the Lion Man (see below), which is why the park is quite unique in the world.
Barbary Lions are some of the most beautiful creatures on earth, their manes are longer and they are heavier than other lions. Sadly they are extinct in the wild and have once been slaughtered by gladiators in Roman arenas, but more recently they survived in captivity thanks to zoos and the courts of North African kings.
White Lions have a colour mutation and are equally rare, they were of course a favourite hunting trophy and only survived through captivity.
White Tigers also have a rare genetic mutation that once occurred in the wild. Surprisingly, their habitat is not only restricted to Las Vegas.
Because the park has changed ownership twice over the last years the breeding programme was stopped, but the animals are in fantastic shape and once the new plans for better enclosures are realised it will continue its course. Any contribution to the project is very welcome, the cats eat 6 cows every week and are pretty expensive to keep!
It is not a zoo and admission is restricted by tour times, the advantage is that you will have a tour guide who will introduce every individual to you and answers any questions about big cats you can think of! Because the guides usually feed the animals they often respond and come for some interaction.
We highly recommend a feeding tour when animals are most active and you will certainly never forget your visit!
Only 14 kilometres drive from our apartment and easy to find, at Kamo turn into Three Mile Bush Rd, then into Gumtown Rd, then into Gray Rd, see directions here (for GPS enter Gray Rd, Whangarei):
Whangarei was lucky to be the home of the famous New Zealand Lion Man who established the lion park - Craig Busch rose to fame on TV with his series about big cat conservation and the establishment of his 'Kingdom of Zion'.
Bookings and more info:
For animal lovers, don't miss seeing our endemic Kiwi birds in the Whangarei Museum and the Native Bird Recovery Centre next door. In summer snorkle at the Poor Knights Islands or swim with dolphins in the Bay of Islands! For more about New Zealand animals, see our ebook: Introduction to New Zealand animals.
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