MONROE, LA (KTVE/KARD)– Faces pressed up against the glass and peeking over the rail, all waiting for Rocko, the lion, and Safia, the lioness, to be released back into their habitat after being in their night homes for 4 and a half weeks.
“During the hurricane, a huge tree fell right on this corner of their enclosure, crushing it to the ground. It left significant damage and it took some time to put it all back together,” said Tom Pearson, Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo Director.
And the excitement could be heard miles away.
“They ran out as soon as the doors opened. They had to check everything out, even though this has always been their enclosure. It looked a little different and smelled a little different, so they had to check everything out,” said Pearson.
Inside their newly rebuilt home, the lions found pumpkins, grass, and toys to enjoy. Zoo officials say you could see the excitement from the lions and getting them back into their night homes tonight might be a little difficult.
“They definitely need a big enclosure, obviously it has to be tall. This is 16 feet high, it has two hotwires, so they can’t climb out. It is substantially built and it has to be because these are very powerful animals,” said Pearson.
Zoo officials say they are thankful for JPS Equipment and James Machine Works who helped repair the exhibit. You can go see the lions and their new habitat 7 days a week starting at 10 am. They will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.