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Public gets first look at new lions

CALGARY - No longer do Calgarians have to wonder where their new lions are.

Five months after arriving from a U.S. zoo, the public finally got to see two-year-old male African lions Baruti and Aslan on Thursday.

The two leonines stepped out into their enclosure, then galloped over to hunks of red meat.

The snow and cold didn't seem to bother them, nor did the people watching them.

The lions were born in September 2010 at the Smithsonian National Zoo.

Jamie Dorgan, area curator for the Calgary Zoo, says Baruti and Aslan are settling well into their new home.

“We are excited for visitors to have an opportunity to finally meet our new additions to the African Savannah," Dorgan said in a news release.

"These two boys have very high genetic value in the captive population."

He says they are of the subspecies krugeri (Panthera leo krugeri) and since their parents are directly from South Africa they are considered founders in the Species Survival Program and North American population.

The lions are also getting acquainted with their new roommates, female lions Tisha and Mbira.

However, the females are 17, and Dorgan says there are no plans to breed them.

African lions are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

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