All about the current members of our Lion Pride at Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park, Rotorua.


Lions are very social animals, unlike other cats, and live in a family group called a pride. They are highly territorial and can occupy the same area for generations if there is plenty of prey available. In ideal conditions, pride numbers can reach up to 40 members - made up of related females, their offspring plus the male/s.

We have been breeding Lions for over 30 years, and all of our current Lions have been born at Paradise. They all have distinctive personalities, likes and dislikes and even individual food preferences.

MAX - 1st February 2000 to 31st July 2019

Unfortunately we have had to say goodbye to our Lion King, Max. He was the eldest male lion we were privileged to have at Paradise reaching the impressive age of 19 years old. He was a fair and respected leader for all of his adult life and he has left a huge hole in the pride.

Despite being in charge of the pride from a young age, Max had a fairly calm disposition and was not overly aggressive for a male lion. Due to Max being so placid, he was actually the first lion we would introduce all of our cubs to. He was very patient with them, and had to put up with them investigating his mane for the first time and climbing all over him.

Max had a very close bond with lioness Ryo who passed away in 2017 aged 22 years. He is buried next to Ryo and overlooking his pride.


BORN: 20th October 2004.

Luca is our oldest lion, and recently has become our most dominant female.

She is the lightest in colour of all of our lions.

Despite her age she can be quite playful and often enjoys running around and chasing the other lionesses.  She has a particularly strong bond with one of her offspring, lioness Aleekah, much more so than Aleekah's littermate Ayla.





BORN: 5th March 2007.

Hana was traditionally the most dominant lioness at Paradise, but following the passing of our head male Max in 2019 Hana's position in the pride hierarchy has lowered.

Her coat colour is very dark.

Hana is a good mother and has a great relationship with her adult offspring.  Lionesses will usually feed their cubs for 6-12 months, but Hana feeds and cares for hers for a lot longer.










BORN: 2nd August 2011.

Nicknamed Ben Junior, he is named after his father Ben who left the park before he was born.

Benji mostly has a placid and gentle nature, and is one of the only males that will hardly ever growl while being handfed.

Being a male lion, the lionesses generally show him respect and get out of his way at feeding times. The only one who is not afraid to push the limits with him is his littermate Bella, which she does regularly and much to Benji's dismay. Littermates always have a tight-knit relationship throughout their lives and Benji and Bella are very close.




BORN: 2nd August 2011.

Bella is our most confident lion and largest lioness. 

Being confident, she is not afraid to get in amongst the males at feeding times. She is always the first to find, claim and defend any new enrichment items. Bella is one of the only lions we've ever had that will eat pork, although reluctantly.

Unusually for a lioness, Bella can get quite grumpy at times and sometimes has a short fuse. She has been known to growl at visitors if they have annoyed her - for example if someone is standing in her line of sight when she is eyeing up a small child or something else of interest.





BORN: 21st February 2012.

Ayla is our smallest lioness.

She is a real sweetheart and has a lovely relaxed nature.

She doesn't like conflict, and although she is confident, she tends to stay away from any aggression at feeding time. For this reason you will notice she doesn't have many scars on her face.

The rare times that Ayla is ever aggressive is when she is really hungry. Normally a placid and quiet lioness, she will fight off any lions that come anywhere near her during this time, including the males, and they all know to keep well away if she is grumpy.


BORN: 21st February 2012.

Aleekah is a quite a dominant lioness.

She has always had a very close relationship with her mother Luca, much more so than her sister Ayla.

She does not get on with older sister Hana at all. Aleekah started challenging Hana for her place in the pride hierarchy when she was only two years old, which Hana opposed, and the two have never gotten along since.





BORN: 20th September 2013.

Xander is the largest lion at Paradise, weighing in at around 200kg. As with most male lions he is aggressive around food and due to his large size some of the lionesses are a bit wary of him, but he is mostly a big softy and is proving to have a relaxed nature for a male lion.






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64 7 348 9667
467 Paradise Valley Road, Rotorua 3072, New Zealand