Two lionesses join Perth Zoo for breeding

Two African lionesses are settling into their new home at Perth Zoo as part of plans to eventually create a new pride.

Three-year-old sisters Uzuri and Makeba were born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in NSW and are now living on the west coast near 19-year-old solitary lioness Shinyanga, who is in a separate area of the exhibit.

Two male lions from North America will join the younger lionesses when Shinyanga eventually dies and will participate in the zoo's breeding program.

The $3.4 million facility has special dens and holding areas and can accommodate four adult lions and four cubs.

West Australian Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said there were only about 20,000 lions left in the wild and breeding for conservation was a game of patience.

"Zoo staff will work with their global zoo colleagues to transfer breeding males to Perth Zoo in the future to establish a new pride with the best genes from two hemispheres," he said on Friday.

Last month, Perth Zoo revealed its two Asian elephants - male Putra Mas and female Permai - would be moved to other zoos for their own wellbeing after beloved matriarch Tricia, 61, eventually dies.

Other ideas for the zoo's future include overhead trails, interconnected exhibits and giving visitors the chance to watch procedures at the veterinary hospital.