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Akron Zoo Opens New Pride of Africa Exhibit

photo of John Kamanga, Guy Western
Kenya-based John Kamanga (right) and Guy Western have been collaborating with the Akron Zoo on the design of the new Pride of Africa exhibit.

The Akron Zoo’s Pride of Africa exhibit opened over the weekend, allowing visitors to see what life with the lions is like.

The $7 million exhibit will include five lions as well as a species new to the Akron Zoo, Speke’s gazelles. The zoo partnered on the exhibit’s design with the Kenya-based South Rift Association of Landowners, which aims to avoid human-animal conflict. The group’s co-founder, John Kamanga, says the goal is to immerse visitors in the Maasai culture.

“It’s a people’s story of how they have lived out with lions. The exhibit actually tries to bring you back to Africa. Then you can be able to get a feel of how living out in a lion-dominated area, what it feels like. And this is a perfect presentation of that.”

Conservationist Guy Western said Pride of Africa mirrors his work in Kenya.

“The first thing you see as you walk in is the boma, where people are living. And then if you’re back in Kenya, you’d walk out of the boma, through the savannah, see all kinds of wildlife, before eventually ending up in the area that lions were in. And that’s exactly what you see when you’re here in the exhibit: you walk out of the boma, through the savannah and eventually end up with the lions.”

A walk through Pride of Africa

There will also be a spray pad so guests can cool down while learning about the clean water crisis in Africa. The exhibit was funded largely by donations, including a $1.5 million anonymous gift, the largest in the zoo’s history.