For the first time in decades Forest Park Zoo welcomes a lion - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

For the first time in decades Forest Park Zoo welcomes a lion

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

For the first time in decades there's a lion at the Forest Park Zoo and though he's only there temporarily officials are pushing to make him a permanent addition.

"We are babysitting him currently," said Teralyn LaChance, the zoo's education director. "We are looking to find out if anyone would be interested in having him stay here and see an exhibit like him on display all year."

Five and a half week old African Lion Cub, Samson, was born in Tennessee and relocated to a zoo in Ohio.

Officials at the Forest Park Zoo are watching him until the season ends in October. At that time they will have the option to try and fund a permanent exhibit.

LaChance explained what it would take to keep him in Springfield.

"A lot of land actually because lions need a lot of space," said LaChance. "And a donation - enough to build that property for him. He would also need housing in the winter time."

A lion has not been housed at the zoo since the 1970s.

"I'm hoping to begin to use him in education programs," said LaChance.

And, so far, Samson is already drawing a lot of attention.

"I'm really happy to see him, it's really an honor," said Lydia Collins. "I've seen pictures but I've never seen a real live lion."

The same is true for many in the area. That's why people like Bob Durand and his grandson are hoping Samson becomes a permanent fixture.

"It's important for him and it's important for me because I haven't seen one either - that's actually why we came to the zoo today," said Durand.

"We're not obviously in an area where lions are common so any animal like that is beneficial to the area," said Gary Courchesne.

If you'd like to donate to keep Samson at the zoo you can visit http://www.forestparkzoo.org/exhibits/african-lion/ for information on how to do so.

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