Lazarus off to Aussie

HINERANGI VAIMOSO
Last updated 05:00 11/09/2012
Lazarus
HUNGER BUSTER: Lazarus the lion from Auckland tucks into a meaty leg for breakfast.
Lazarus
HINERANGI VAIMOSO/Fairfax NZ
FAMILIAR FACE: David Crimp of Oratia will be the zookeeper travelling with Lazarus.

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Lazarus the lion woke up on Friday so hungry he could eat a horse - so he did.

The furry beast entertained snapping cameras as he frolicked in the long grass at Auckland Zoo before munching on a horse leg for breakfast.

The 10-year-old lion will attract even more attention tomorrow when he moves to his new home at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in New South Wales, all under the watchful eye of zookeeper David Crimp of Oratia.

He's worked at Auckland Zoo for four years.

"We'll definitely miss Lazarus. He's got such an amazing personality," Mr Crimp says. "He's the dominant male around here and he really proves it by strutting around and showing off like he does."

Lazarus is leaving so Ngala can take over as the dominant male and breed with the female lions.

"It's sad because they both came from Africa when they were really young and they've been like brothers ever since. In some way, Ngala will be happy to become the dominant one but in other ways, it's almost like he needs Lazarus to lead him."

Mr Crimp and the 199kg Lazarus will fly out on a Boeing 757 Freighter for DHL Express.

The lion won't be sedated during the trip so his health can be monitored.

"I'll be on the flight with him so I can hopefully be a familiar voice to keep him calm," Mr Crimp says. "It's been really great working with Lazarus and watching his personality grow. I'm sure he'll have a great time over there."

Lazarus has fathered two litters at Auckland Zoo.

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