Ronald J. Mount Lion & Hyena Exhibit Opens at Turtle Back Zoo


WEST ORANGE, NJ -- The Ronald J. Mount Lion and Hyena Exhibit at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo was opened today by Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. The exhibit is a part of the African Adventure area of the zoo. Turtle Back Zoo is now home to animals from North and South America, Asia, Australia, and Africa. 

“The lion is the central figure on the Essex County Seal, so it’s only natural that we have real life versions at Turtle Back Zoo. Known as the King of the Jungle, the lions are one of the most recognizable and popular animals. They will complement our Masai Giraffes and make the African Adventure exhibit an even more dynamic attraction,” DiVincenzo said. “Ronald Mount was a great advocate for Turtle Back Zoo, and he always wanted to bring lions here. We are pleased to have partnered with his family to make his dream come true and create a first-class exhibit for the public to enjoy,” he added.

"Lions and Hyenas interact in the wild and that is what we have tried to re-create here," Turtle Back Zoo Director Michael Kerr said. "What is also important is that both of these species are part of the AZA'S (American Zoological Association) species survival plan so we can provide a genetically stable population for years to come," he added.

Sign Up for E-News

The half-acre exhibit includes exposed rock formations to attract the lions and three viewing stations. A heated stone patio is near one of the viewing stations to encourage the big cats to lounge where they can easily be seen. 

Mount, for whom the exhibit is named,  became involved in Essex County Turtle Back Zoo in 2005 when he generously contributed to the development of the 'Bears in Your Backyard' exhibit. The bear exhibit was the first major addition to the Zoo during the DiVincenzo administration and marked the beginning of a number of exhibits designed to replicate the animals’ natural habitats. The 18,000-square-foot bear exhibit features two bears, named Jelly and Jam, and provides visitors with the experience that they are watching the bears from their own home.

Mount later joined the volunteer Docent Organization which assists Turtle Back Zoo staff with educational and outreach programs and became a board member of the Zoological Society of New Jersey, the fundraising arm of the Zoo. For his contributions, Mount was one of the honorees at the Turtle Back Zoo 50thAnniversary Gala in 2013. During the event, he and his grandson, Jasper, gave a speech to the more than 600 people in attendance.

"Turtle Back Zoo meant a great deal to my father and having lions here was always his dream. It's a special day when I can show my children that there grandfather had such a meaningful role at the zoo," said Ian Mount, Ronald Mount's son. "It's great that we can all enjoy this without going too far from home. I hope this exhibit opens with a roar," he added.

Mount also was involved in other philanthropic and civic activities. He founded the Ronald J. Mount Educational Foundation, which was his own personal legacy of supporting educational opportunities for deserving individuals. He also had served as President of the American Cancer Association, President of the Inner-City Scholarship Fund in New Jersey and President of the Millburn Board of Education. Professionally, he was a successful real estate investor and was involved in the commercial and residential real estate market in Naples, Fla. He passed away on April 23, 2015.

Construction of the lion and hyena exhibit area began in October 2016 and was finished in seven months.

The Zoo is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $14 for adults, $11 for children and senior citizens, and free for children younger than 2 years. For more information, call 973-731-5800 or visit

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


East Brunswick: I Don't Wanna Close Up, I'm a Toys-R-Us Kid

March 16, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - East Brunswick used to be the home of Meyer's toy store, an almost idyllic wonderland of all sorts of Barbies, parts for swimming pools, and clanging model trains until it closed in 2002.  Kay-Bee toy store was a popular stop at the Brunswick Square Mall until 2009, with a salesperson often displaying the newest gadget outside its door, causing eager kids ...


Piscataway – Reinhard Rudolf Kiefer, 85, died Sunday March 11, 2018 at home. Born in ...
Read more
Piscataway, NJ – Manuela Cruz, 94, born July 17, 1923, passed away peacefully on March 8, ...
Read more

Celebrate National Ag Day at the Middlesex County EARTH Center

March 13, 2018

EARTH CENTER, NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - Consider this: just about everything we eat, wear and use comes from agriculture. That is why America’s farmers and their crops are celebrated each year on National Ag Day, which falls this year on March 20.

To honor this day, the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County has planned a new seminar entitled The State of Agriculture and ...

Darby Road to Host Fifth Annual St. Patrick's Day Festival

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Darby Road Public House (450 Park Ave., Scotch Plains) has announced the dates and times of its hugely popular St. Patrick’s Day Festival, which will be set up in the municipal parking lot.

The festival features Irish bands, Irish step dancers, bagpipers, great Irish fare and enough Guinness to go around! The event also will have a bounce house, ...

Piscataway Libraries Host Annual NJ Makers Day Program

PISCATAWAY, NJ – The Piscataway Public Libraries were once again hosts to dozens of “makers” for the 4th Annual NJ Makers Day celebration.

The Saturday events at the Kennedy and Westergard Libraries featured activities and demonstrations by members of the maker culture with a focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) initiatives.

Among other ...

NCAA Tournament: Heilmann and DelVecchio Both Secure All-American Honors; Suriano Becomes Rutgers' First-Ever Finalist

CLEVELAND, OH -The senior class of South Plainfield High School’s “Murderer’s Row”, the 2013 team that earned a group title, two individual state titles, and produced five state placewinners, knows a thing or two about making wrestling history. The 2018 NCAA wrestling tournament marks the last time two standouts from 2013 team, Troy Heilmann and Scott DelVecchio, will ...

Pre-Ticket Sale for Holy Savior Academy’s 4th Annual Spring Splendor Tricky Tray

Holy Savior Academy is hosting its Spring Splendor Tricky Tray Saturday, April 21, 2018 at the school.  Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

Tickets are limited and will be sold at Holy Savior Academy, 149 South Plainfield Avenue, South Plainfield on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. (cash or checks)

BYOB and food- Admission $ 25 per ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, March 17, 1:00 PM


International Food Festival

Food & Drink

Sat, March 17, 5:30 PM

St. Francis Episcopal Church, Dunellen

St. Patrick's Day Annual Dinner

Food & Drink

Thu, March 22, 7:00 PM


The Basics of Starting a Business

Business & Finance

Fri, March 23, 8:00 PM

State Theatre New Jersey , New Brunswick

Motown the Musical

Arts & Entertainment

New Jersey Hoops Player Isaiah Rogers Part of College Basketball History

March 17, 2018

CHARLOTTE, NC - You all saw what happened. You all witnessed history.

But did you know a former Jonathan Dayton basketball player, who helped lead the Bulldogs to an NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 1 state title in 2012-13, is on the University of Maryland-Baltimore County men’s basketball roster?

Junior guard Isaiah Rogers, who served as UMBC’s team’s manager in ...

Get Smart

I don’t want to be on a first name basis with my refrigerator.


Oh don’t get me wrong, I am all for cool technology—when it works—but I draw the line at talking to appliances.  I have enough trouble carrying on conversations with humans.  


But in what must be one of the truly great technological oxymorons of our time, the dawn of the ...