Dr. Dallas is a female Barbary Lioness (Panthera leo leo), born in September 2009. Dallas is named after an amazing volunteer, Dr. Dallas Wentz, who has been with us since she was 13 years old and is now a licensed veterinarian in Butte County and still a part of the family at our foundation. Dallas, better known as Dally, loves to play with her big red ball by putting it in her water, and then spins it with her paw. She has an extremely playful temperament. Dr. Dallas is a part of our behavioral research program, so that we may learn more about the Barbary subspecies of lion and share this knowledge with other facilities.

Some of the characteristics of Barbary lions are that the female as well as the young males possess longer hairs around the neck and throat, back of front legs and along belly. Males have a huge mane covering the head, neck and shoulders, but also extending behind the shoulders and covering the belly. The color of their mane varies among the parts of the body, becoming darker towards the hindquarters. These lions have a lot of fur creating a shaggy look. They also have a larger tuft on the tip of their tail and are known to be the largest of all lions. Male Barbary lions can weigh up to 600 pounds. The only way to find out if it is true Barbary lion is by DNA testing.

The prey for the Barbary lions were mainly Barbary sheep, wild boar, Cuvier’s gazelles, Barbary stag, and the local cattle. The method of hunting was never documented, but it is believed that they used the same strangulation method as the lions of southern Africa.

Barbary Lions are an extremely endangered subspecies of lion. Two thousand years ago they ranged from Northern Africa to Rome. By the twentieth century they could only be found in a small range in Northern Africa. It was the ancient Roman Empire that first reduced the Barbary to small numbers. Roman Emperors sought to entertain the people of Rome. To reassure his people that their civilization had control over nature, the ancient Romans imported these huge lions from North Africa to use in the games of the Coliseum. It is known that literally thousands of these lions were taken from their homes to other parts of the Roman Empire to serve as gladiator’s rivals. Hunting contributed to the extinction of the Barbary Lion, but the ecological changes brought about by cultivation seemed to have been the major cause.

Barbary Lion Fast Facts:

Body Length Up to 11 ft
Body Height 4 ft
Body Weight Females 350 lbs; Males 550 lbs
Gestation Period 105 – 115 days
Number of Offspring 2 – 3 cubs
Lifespan In Wild 12 yrs; In Captivity up to 20 yrs