Lions can’t purr! And other things I learned at the Akron Zoo this summer

by Stephanie Musarra

“Do lions purr?” I inquired as I toured the zoo’s newest exhibit,  “Pride of Africa”. 

“No,” Akron Zoo Marketing Events Specialist Erica Rhymer responded, “They make a similar noise called a chuff. Large cats cannot purr because of the anatomy of their throats.”

This is one of the interesting animal facts I learned from the Pride of Africa exhibit, which opened on June 29.

Stephanie Musarra: What can you tell me about the “Pride of Africa” exhibit?

Erica Rhymer: The Pride of Africa exhibit features goats, lions, guinea fowls, storks, and gazelles. It’s modeled after the Maasai tribe. These are individuals who live, and farm in areas where lions are prevalent. This exhibit educates the public about how the Maasai people farm and gather water. The villagers have to carry a five-gallon bucket for several miles every day to gather water from the river. There is an educational piece that simulates how heavy the bucket is. You can visit the Pride of Africa exhibit year-round.

SM: How does the zoo name its animals?

ER: We like to give our animals educational names based on the region where they live. We are in the process of naming the goats. Right now, we call them by the names of the people on the show Friends.

SM: Have there been any recent animal births?

ER: The snow leopard cub was born on April 29, 2019. She’s not on exhibit yet. She still doesn’t have a name. The baby musk deer is named “Little Bucky.” He was born on June 13, 2019.

SM: What future exhibits do you have planned?

ER: We plan to open the Wild Asia Exhibit next summer. It will feature Sumatran tigers, red pandas, and white-cheeked gibbon primates.

SM: Which is your favorite animal?

ER: The male lion, Tamara, is quite a diva. He doesn’t like to get his paws wet. His favorite toy is a large trash can. He likes to drag it around.

SM: What events are coming up?

ER: On Sept. 11, you can participate in a painting class, while enjoying a glass of wine at the Wine and Paint event. On Sept. 29, you can learn about the world of bees at the Honey Harvest Festival. On Oct. 5 and Dec. 12, you can taste various beers from local breweries at Brew at the Zoo.

The Akron Zoo is located at 505 Euclid Ave, Akron, Ohio, 44307. Hours: April-October: 10 am-5 pm daily November-March: 11 am-4 pm daily

Stephanie Musarra is a student at the University of Akron.