ROYAL OAK (WWJ) – Previously a pet, a young lion named Simba has found a new home at the Detroit Zoo.

Simba is a 4-year-old male lion who was once owned by the royal family of Qatar. Zoo officials said the family received him as a gift, but decided he would be better off in a different environment.

Scott Carter, with the Detroit Zoological Society, says because Simba was hand-raised, he’s not your typical lion. Zoo visitors will find he’s a bit more friendly with the human folk.

“There’s glass along the front [of the exhibit], so people and the lions can get a lot closer to each other than they used to,” Carter told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Zahra Huber.

“And he does spend a fair amount of time a the glass; he watched people. Of course, this time of years there are a lot less people here as there would be in July,” Carter said. “Still, he spends a lot of time at the glass watching people — he’s not afraid of people.”

Carter said Simba has a lot to learn when it comes to the laws of the jungle

“He acts like a cat that was reared by humans which means, for many animals when they are hand-raised by humans, they don’t have some important social behaviors they should have learned from their parents,” Carter said. “Now, some animals get over that in time. They successfully breed and things like that.”

Detroit Zoo visitors can see the lions year-round in their recently remodeled 7,500-square-foot habitat, which features a 17-foot-tall glass wall, allowing for the closer view Carter mentioned. Warming rocks near the glass provide the lions a toasty perch for people-watching in cooler weather.

Simba joins the Detroit Zoo’s two female lions. Bikira, 20, was born at an Arizona zoo and came to Detroit when she was 9 months old. Erin, estimated to be 11 years old, was rescued from a junkyard in Kansas in 2009. Lions are the only species of big cat to live in a social group that includes adult males and their offspring.

The Detroit Zoo is open 362 days a year, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through Labor Day and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the day after Labor Day through October. Admission is $14 for adults 15 to 61, $12 for senior citizens 62 and older, and $9 for children 2 to 14 (children under 2 are free). For more information, call 248- 541-5717 or visit

Simba (credit: Patti Woods Truesdell)

Simba (credit: Patti Woods Truesdell)


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