London Zoo is building a new, £5.2million lion exhibit, with the aim of breeding extremely endangered Asiatic lions.
Land of the Lions is set to open in Spring 2016, and at 2,500sqm, the lions’ den will be more than five times the size of the current lion space at the zoo.
Although we reckon captivity isn’t exactly comparable to being in the wild, ZSL says zookeepers and conservationists have been heavily involved in planning the exhibit, “to ensure that the welfare and needs of the animals are at the forefront of the design”.
The new design will feature a mock Indian village and enable visitors to get up close to the big cats. The aim is to highlight the often fraught relationship between humans and lions in the wild, as the animals’ natural habitat is moved into by humans.
It’s all part of ZSL’s ongoing Lions400 campaign, a conservation project which aims to protect the Asiatic lion species. Only 400 remain in the wild, in a small section of the Gir Forest in India, with poaching and disease posing a major threat to the survival of the species.
In advance of the building work, Lucifer, the zoo’s male lion, was moved to a new home at Paignton Zoo earlier in the year: