The city is to relocate the Lion Zoo Park to a new site at Peacock Park in the Bole area of the capital. The 30 million birr deal between the city administration and local firm Defense Construction Enterprise was signed on 16 April.
Following the city-funded construction of the new facility, the zoo will move from its existing 1.2-hectare Sidist Kilo location in Arada to the much larger 26-hectare site which was designed in collaboration with German architect Nikolaus Knebel, and will be constructed in four phases.
Until now the old park – described by many tourists as depressing – has hosted ten lion species including the rare Leopantels Abyssinica which is endemic to Ethiopia. Authorities believe the cramped conditions have contributed to the low breeding rate among the lions but they expect this to improve in the new surroundings.
In 2006 the under-funded zoo made headlines after it admitted to poisoning six lion cubs and selling their bodies to taxidermists because it had insufficient resources to care for its animals.
The park was established in 1948 after hunters gifted lions to Emperor Haile Selassie. The zoo also accommodates tortoises, geleda baboons, monkeys, apes, rabbits, ducks and fish.