THEY’RE the undisputed kings of the jungle, and they’ve just swaggered into town.
Four African lions were officially welcomed to Altina Wildlife Park yesterday in what park owners Gino and Gloria Altin described as the realisation of a lifelong dream.
Two white lions – breeding pair Bella and Tim – have been joined by a mother and son pair of tawny lions – Narla and Jibari – as part of the Darlington Point park’s growing menagerie of exotic animals.
The Altins have been forced to go to extraordinary lengths to house the four beasts, building a 4000-square metre enclosure, with five-metre tall, fully electrified fences around the perimeter.
“People don’t realise that one strike of a lion’s claw can kill you,” Mr Altin said.
“No matter how prepared you think you are, even when they roar at you from the other side of the fence you still jump. It’s our prehistoric instinct kicking in.”
Not that the lions, who arrived from Mogo Zoo last week, should be too hungry.
Mr Altin said in their first week alone, the carnivores chewed through a combined 160kg of meat.
A host of park supporters and VIPs gathered yesterday to see Riverina MP Michael McCormack open the Phil De Saxe Earthmoving Lion Exhibit.
“This is a stage we thought we might one day get to but not this soon,” Mr Altin said.
“To actually have the kings of the jungle at our park is an amazing feeling.”
Securing the white lions was a particular coup, he said, with only 120 in captivity worldwide and even fewer in the wild.
Twenty-four local companies have donated time or materials to build the enclosure, which includes six holding yards, logs, scratch poles and two large trees for shade.
Mr Altin said the lions, which were raised in captivity, had settled in “extremely well”.