So London Zoo is a must stop when adventuring in London, but an exciting new part of the zoo is due to open this month, Land of the Lions! Initial work on the exhibit started back in 2014 and covers more than 2,500sqm (27,00sqft). It will be five times the size of the previous enclosure and will provide state-of-the-art facilities for a breeding group of endangered Asiatic lions, of which only several hundred remain in the wild.
The Asian lion population has recovered from the brink of extinction to several hundred individuals. These Lions only live in the Gir Forest, India (this is an area that is smaller than Greater London). They were nearly hunted to extinction for sport due to the rise of firearms across the world, they used to range from Turkey, across Asia, to eastern India. Today their habitat is far smaller “Five protected areas currently exist to protect the Asian lion: Gir Sanctuary, Gir National Park and Pania Sanctuary to form the Gir Conservation Area (GCA) covering an area of 20,000 km2 of forest representing the core habitat for the Asiatic lion.” Even though the lions are recovering, the remaining lions are still faced with many threats such as disease, disaster and potential poaching, and have to live alongside a growing human population that also needs the land for cattle and crops.
The exhibit in London is designed to transport you back to the lions’ native home of Gir, where you can get up close and personal with them. Three walkways take you around the habitat – there are immersive Indian themed areas including a train station, crumbling temple clearing, high street and guard hut.
If you are wanting to check out the new exhibit early on the 19th March, Time Out has a great deal which you can find here: http://www.timeout.com/london/shop/tickets/event-land-of-the-lions-exclusive
If you want to hold off until Easter then the habitat officially opens on 25th March. Here is a sneak peek of the lions’ new home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toTrowrLH0g
Well worth the trip!