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Emporia’s zoo welcomes lion

Emporia’s zoo welcomes lion

Photo Courtesy of David Traylor Zoo

Flint, the newest animal at the David Traylor Zoo, rests atop a tree in his exhibit. Flint received his name in honor of the Flint Hills in a landslide vote from the Emporia public.

Flint, a six-month-old mountain lion cub, has arrived at David Traylor Zoo.

Flint is named after the Flint Hills and received his name via a contest the zoo held that ended in March. The public submitted 727 name suggestions to choose from. The zoo staff narrowed it down to five, then put stations around the zoo and in the zoo education center where people could donate money towards the name they liked most. The contest raised $3,100.

According to the zoo’s website, Flint was found and rescued in the Blue Mountains, located in Washington. Two men were hiking in the mountains when they found the carcass of a mountain lion. They reported it the wildlife and parks authorities who arrived the next day to find Flint next to his deceased mother. After rescuing Flint from the wild, he was transported to the Emporia Zoo.

“I’m happy to see that the zoo has gotten another mountain lion so soon after the passing of the other,” said Amy Redden, secondary education major.

Flint’s exhibit is made specifically for mountain lions. It features a small pool of water, a tree for him to climb on, a cave to nap in, and some rock features Flint likes to doze off under.

Before Flint came to the zoo, Sampson was the sole resident at the mountain lion exhibit. Sampson arrived at the David Traylor Zoo as a very young cub, still needing to be bottle fed. He developed a close relationship with his handlers over the years, and spent his life in the care of the Emporia Zoo. Sampson passed from old age earlier this year and is memorialized by a plaque in the shape of a paw print in front of the exhibit.

The Emporia Zoo, founded in 1934, is free for the public to enjoy. It is funded by the city of Emporia.

“It’s something that the city wants to give to the people of Emporia and the surrounding communities,” said Lisa Keith, director of the Emporia Zoo.

The zoo sees around 80,000 visitors a year. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday thru Saturday. During the summer, the zoo has extended hours on Sunday and Wednesday – they’re open until 8 p.m.

“The mission of the zoo is to provide an environment which inspires the stewardship of the natural world,” Keith said. “We want people to understand that it’s important to conserve and to help the wildlife thrive in their natural world.”

The Emporia Zoo will be hosting the event “Party for the Planet” Sunday, April 27 from 1-3 p.m. The event will help guests explore ways they can positively impact the environment. For more information about the zoo and upcoming events, visit zoo.emporia-kansas.gov.

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