Popcorn Park Zoo welcomes new lions and tigers to NJ from Canada

LACEY — Canada’s loss is New Jersey’s gain in the form of four new lions and tigers at the Associated Humane Societies Popcorn Park Zoo and Animal Sanctuary.

They resided at the Cherry Brook Zoo in the province of New Brunswick in eastern Canada, which closed in May 2020 after 46 years. The zoo was struggling financially at the start of the pandemic, but visitor restrictions cut off their source of income, leading to their decision to close.

New homes were finally found for all 60 animals in Cherry Brook. Popcorn Park Zoo has agreed to take in sibling lions, both aged 8, and tigers aged 7 and 8. They were first taken to the Granby Zoo in Quebec before completing their two-year journey in Ocean County.

Executive director John Bergman said when he agreed to host them he had no idea it would take this long.

“It took a long time to get all the permits and arrange transportation,” Bergman Zoo told New Jersey 101.5. “A special thank you to Senator (former State) Raymond Lesniak for his perseverance in helping to relocate these cats to New Jersey. This relocation would not have been possible without the tremendous support of Tigers in America and InSync Exotics.”

New female and male tigers at Popcorn Park Zoo

New female and male tigers at Popcorn Park Zoo (John Bergman)

Preparing for new residents

Bergman said it was an honor to have the new residents fill the void left by Caesar’s death in 2021. The new animals double the shelter’s “big cat” population. The zoo had to make some adjustments in order to provide a suitable home.

“We had a cougar area and the gates were only 38 inches high. The tigers are taller so we had to do a rebuild to make the gates big enough for them to go through easily, we made new fences and things like that. We just got it all ready and we did it all in-house,” Berman said.

The four new residents are already at the zoo to adapt to their new environment.

“They’re very nice and laid back and are adjusting well so far,” Bergman said.

New male and female lions at Popcorn Park Zoo

New male and female lions at Popcorn Park Zoo (John Bergman)

First visitors

They are due to meet the public for the first time at an event on Saturday, September 10 celebrating the Popcorn Park Zoo’s 45th anniversary.

The zoo will soon announce a naming contest on its Facebook and Instagram pages.

“These cats will be a welcome addition to the more than 200 animals we provide shelter to. More importantly, they will provide an educational experience for the nearly 100,000 people who visit us every year. It is gratifying to know that Popcorn Park’s reputation as a refuge for wildlife in need extends beyond the borders of our country. Jerry Rosenthal, CEO of Associated Humane Societies, said in a written statement.

The one from the zoo Big Cats Rescue Fund provides a way to help lions and tigers financially. A donation of $10 per month includes free admission to the zoo, a color photo of their pet, and updates about them every four months.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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