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Meet the Buffalo Zoo’s new mane attraction: Tiberius

There’s a new king of the jungle in town.

His name is Tiberius, and he just arrived from Rochester.

Tiberius is a juvenile African Lion – a descendant of lions from South Africa – who was born at the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester in March 2013, and hand-raised by zookeepers.

He comes to the Buffalo Zoo on a breeding recommendation for the Species Survival Plan adopted for African lions living in zoos.

“We’re excited, because he is so valuable to the population,” said Donna Fernandes, the zoo’s president. “We’re glad we will be the site of breeding hopefully in a couple of years.” The last male lion at the zoo died earlier this year.

Tiberius, who weighs 266 pounds, will be gradually introduced to Lelie and Lusaka – the Buffalo Zoo’s pair of 4-year-old half-sister lionesses.

All three will soon have a chance to become acquainted after Tiberius has time to grow accustomed to his new home. Lions reach breeding age at 2, but usually don’t have a chance to reproduce in the wild until they’re older because of competition from older males. That’s not the case in captivity, but it can still take considerable time for female lions to accept the male.

“Sometimes it’s a social maturation as well as a physical maturation that is involved,” Fernandes said.

Tiberius will be out for public viewing in the zoo’s lion exhibit from 10 a.m. to noon daily.