The Seneca Park Zoo is home to African lions, which are moving closer to being placed on the U S endangered species list. Several conservation groups have been fighting for this and filed a petition last year to put the lions on the list.
They are majestic.
"Today was the first time I've seen them really active," said Lindsey Holmes of Irondequoit.
The lion has always been the symbol of pride and courage.
"Sometimes you come around the corner, and there they are right up on the rock and near the fence, cleaning their paws or chasing!"
A Step Into Africa is a unique exhibit at the Seneca Park Zoo that has drawn thousands of visitors since it officially opened in May of this year.
But the African lions are becoming extinct. The populations have declined by about 50 percent over the past three decades. Current estimates put the total number at fewer than 35,000.
"It certainly heightens awareness. It makes people somewhat more aware of the need to see these animals before they completely disappear. We hope we never get to the point where the only place you do see them is in human care," said Larry Sorel, zoo director.
The three lions are part of a permeant collection at the Seneca Park Zoo, but human hunting along with a disappearing habitat are among some of the challenges facing the species.
"What we hope to be able to do with these animals is use them as an education tool, an ambassador for their species, so people understand how their personal choices impact wild life and landscapes on a global scale," Sorel said.
If African lions are added to the endangered species list, it's a process that could still take a few years, but one that would hopefully deter hunters.
Holmes is hoping the exhibit will teach her granddaughter that animals are important creatures who need an environment that mimics their natural habitat.
"They've given the animals more habitat and I hope that that's a trend so that it increases and increases, 'cause I don't know if we'll have such animals in the wild very much longer."