Fri | Dec 9, 2016

A lover for Lucas

Published:Wednesday | November 19, 2014 | 12:00 AMKeisha Hill
FILE: Kenneth Benjamin
ILE: Finally, there seems to be a mate on the horizon for Lucas the Hope Zoo lion.
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Tales of affection, love and happiness abound during the Christmas season, and for Lucas, the Hope Zoo lion, Santa might just be ready to treat him with a mate to make his Christmas a very merry one.

According to Kenny Benjamin, executive chairman of the Hope Zoo Preservation Foundation Limited, a lioness has been located in Los Angeles, California, however, they will have to meet the import/export requirements to get the 'big cat' into the island. They also have to ensure that she passes all the medical requirements for the ports of entry and is in good health before she is transported here.

Jasmine, as she is already affectionately called, is three years old. She is already in quarantine in the United States and will be in further isolation for at least 45 days. This is to accommodate medical and port of entry and exit requirements. Once in Jamaica, Jasmine will again be kept separately for at least another month before she is introduced to Lucas.

Necessary precautions

"We cannot have both of them in the same area when she gets here. We also have to ensure that the fire brigade is on the premises when we introduce Jasmine to Lucas and we have an ample

supply of CO2 gas. If Lucas doesn't like her, he will pin her down and kill her in five minutes. Lions are very selective of their mates," Benjamin said.

American Charlie Sammut, described by many as a modern-day Noah, donated Lucas from the Monterey Zoo in California to the Hope Zoo. Since then, the search has been on in earnest to find Lucas a mate who is of a similar age and can hold her own. To date, Lucas has not been socialised with a lioness.

Jasmine is a well-anticipated addition to the Hope Zoo, which is home to 900 animals across 60 species, including indigenous, endangered, and endemic animals from Jamaica, Africa, and the Americas.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com