Upepo the lion joins the pride at Zoo Knoxville

Zoo Knoxville has a new addition in the park, but this time it’s not a baby – it’s a 5-year-old, 400-pound lion.

Upepo, whose name means “wind” in Swahili, traveled to Knoxville from Wildlife Safari park in Winston, Oregon, in July.

Zoo Knoxville debuted the lion in the Valley of Kings habitat Wednesday morning to the sounds of the Knoxville Opera. Performers Aubrey and Wayd Odle and artistic director Brian Salesky played popular animal-themed songs from classic movies to welcome the lion king. 

Upepo was being quite the scaredy cat and wouldn’t come out of his den. Bystanders did get a glimpse of the lion when he poked out his head for a brief moment. 

New at the zoo

Zoo Knoxville has recently announced the upcoming arrival of two other animals. 

A baby giraffe is expected to be born in December. It will be the second calf born to five-year-old Frances and 18-year-old Jumbe. 

Zoo Knoxville also is expecting its first newborn chimpanzee in more than 13 years. Jambo, the 14-year-old chimpanzee mother, will give birth in December or early January. 

The park lost two of its beloved residents including weather-predicting camel Abba and lioness Ann earlier this year. 



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