ZSL London Zoo land of the Lions article ARTICLE By Outside The Bubble Uk

ZSL London Zoo Land of the Lions

Being a Londoner, London Zoo has always been somewhere I have visited at least two or three times a year from a very early age and even now as an adult. Some of my fondest childhood memories I have, are of my experiences there. London Zoo may not be the biggest zoo in the world, but what makes this zoo so special, is not only in it’s 200-year presence in London, it has allowed the general public from London and all over the world to get an up close experience with exotic animals and learn about them, but because London Zoo is run by ZSL (The Zoological Society of London) which an international scientific, educational and conservation charity you know that all it’s animals are truly looked after.

Two of the resident Lionesses at Land of the Lions at ZSL London Zoo - Photo taken and owned by L J Legend

Two of the resident Lionesses Indi and Heidi at Land of the Lions at ZSL London Zoo – Photo taken by © L J Legend 

This year ZSL London Zoo has launched a brand new exhibit called Land of the Lions, which cost £5.2m to build. The area its built on covers over 2,500 square metres, which is the size of 91 double decker buses. Designers Natalie Latham and Tom Sears designed Land of the Lions exhibit to tell the story of how the Asiatic Lions live and how people are striving to conserve them.

ZSL London Zoo hopes this exhibit will raise awareness of the near extinct Asiatic Lions of Gir Forest in Western India. At present there   are approximately only 500 individual lions that have been recorded. This truly magnificent species has dwindled due to disease, natural disasters and even more heart breaking, due to humans poaching them for various reasons. London Zoo’s aim is to use this exhibit to get the general public educated and engaged in this campaign, which they hope will lead to the support of its efforts both in India and also in the UK, which assure the survival of these magnificent animals for future generations to come before it’s too late…

How Will They Do This

  • Improve breeding centres.
  • Train and share ZSL’s expertise with local vet rescue teams.
  • Enhance the monitoring of the wild populations using SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) technology developed by ZSL.
  • ZSL will share it’s expertise in animal husbandry with those working with the lions in Sakkabaug Zoo and the Gir National Park Rescue Centres.

I was lucky enough to have been invited with my family consisting of my mum, my 4-year-old nephew, my aunt and her children aged 7 and 14 to experience first hand this exhibit. Our morning began as we walked through the massive stone replica of crumbling temple gates  and as soon as we had stepped through the gates, it was like we had stepped into a small village in India.  As we walked further in, we were greeted by a Ranger stood beside a Rickshaw, as he was meeting and greeting everyone, what I thought was a nice touch is that the children were given a fact finder card that gave them a little mission where they had to search for various clues around the area, as well as collecting special stamps.

Rangers Station at Land of the Lions - Picture taken by L J Legend

Rangers Observation Station at Land of the Lions – Picture taken by © L J Legend

We started our adventure by walking up the trail which lead towards the Gir Hills and would in fact give us a birds eye view of the Lion pride, as we got further up the path we came across a Rangers observation station, where anyone passing could explore this station and have a look at exactly the type of tools used by real life Rangers back at Gir Forest. The further we walked up the path to the peak of the hill the more authentic it got with lot’s of reminders that we were in an Indian village, such as religious item like a small statue of the Elephant God Ganesha surrounded by a decorated shrine, as well as beautifully designed mosaics. Through out walking up the hill their were plenty of areas that enabled us to have a full look at the Lions habitat, which was filled with various horticulture, similar to the types of plants and trees found in Indian and more pacifically to the Gir Forest. As we stood their peering down, at how close we actually where to the lion’s, we saw the lionesses roaming around their territory. The three lionesses who are all sisters named Rubi, Heidi and Indi, where actually born within London zoo, and looking back at my photo’s it amazing at how much of a closer look I got at these beautiful majestic creatures (you can see more on my instagram account).

Lion Rescue demonstration at ZSL London Zoo Photo's take by © L J Legend

Lion Rescue demonstration at ZSL London Zoo Photo’s take by © L J Legend

As we made our way back down to the ground, we walked round, so that we could get a ground look at the Lionesses and we had hoped to see the only male Lion of this pride named Bhanu, but instead what we had walked into was a live action rescue, which demonstrated how the Ranger’s in Gir Forest would really deal with a Lion rescue. Because the lions are perfectly safe in there enclosure. A life like looking prop lion was used for this demonstration purpose. As this allows the spectators to get involved in this rescue demonstration. Behind us facing the Lions was the Vultures, who were chewing on some meat and watching on as people passed by.

The High street at Land of the Lions Picture by © L J Legend

The High street at Land of the Lions Picture by © L J Legend

Once the live action lion rescue was over, we walked through a temple clearing and noticed the Gir lodges which can be booked by the general public to stay in over night. We continued walking on into a house, which had various photos and household objects, not unlike a villagers house in Gir. As we walked through there, we found ourselves back near the path we had first crossed to go up the hill, but this time instead of going back up, we continued to walk round, where we would pass a food outlet with a sign that said Amreli Street Food which would take us into the high street area of this Indian village. There were lots of brightly coloured signs and stalls, paintings on walls and Bollywood themed movie posters as well as various areas that spectators where able to walk in and explore such as the visitor’s centre and the pedal power station which had a big bike and little bike to allow visitors to ride on the spot and see if they could out run an Asiatic Lion.

Hanuman Langurs Photo by ©L J Legend

Hanuman Langurs Photo by L J Legend

Still in search of Bhanu the Lion, we left the high street and walked through the middle where we would come across the other inhabitants in the land of the lions, the Hanuman Langurs. As we approached the Langurs it was funny to see that they were as curious of us staring at them, as we were of them. The Langur in this picture was more than happy to pose for the camera and was completely unfased by everyone looking. The train station area has another part of the habitat for the lions, which we were able to view the lions. Eventually, we had managed to catch a glimpse of the infamous Bhanu the Lion, who looked like he was was patrolling his territory He seemed quite happy getting the lay out of his land and finally finding an area that wasn’t so easy to spot him.

Bhanu the Lion picture by © L J Legend

Bhanu the Lion picture by © L J Legend

Rubi the Asiatic Lion picture by © L J Legend

Rubi the Asiatic Lion picture by © L J Legend

Once you have experienced this exhibit why not take yourself around the rest of the Zoo and meet the rest of it inhabitants in their habitats from the Gorillas in the Gorilla Kingdom, to meeting the Penguins at feeding time and if your feeling really brave you could even go in with the spiders which is the UK first ever walk through exhibit, these are just a few of the animals at London Zoo to visit.

The Zoo & Map Information

LdnZoo_Map_23062015

  • The Zoo is wheelchair friendly with access to its exhibits.
  • There are restaurants, but I tend to take a packed lunch and if the weather is nice enough you can always make a picnic of it.
  • Tickets can be purchased at the gate but are slightly cheaper to purchase online on the www.zsl.org
  • If you are going to be a regular visitor to the Zoo you may want to think about buying an annual pass, which will allow you to have unlimited access to both ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade and gives you various discounts throughout both Zoo’s.
  • There are two main train station’s close to London Zoo Regents Park and Camden Town – check on TFLwebsite for information on how to get there from your location.
  • There is parking available for around £14.50 for cars and motorbikes.

Please Note: Although I was invited as a guest of ZSL London Zoo all views within this article are my own and all photographs are my own with the exception of any ZSL logos and the Map. You can also find more photo’s from my day at Land of the Lions on The Outside The Bubble UK Instagram account.

Written by

L J Legend

About The Author

LJ is the founder of Outside the Bubble UK, she will be releasing her first novel this year called 'The Secret Diary of a Hotel Entertainer', which is based on some of her experience as a hotel entertainer over the years. LJ has a passion for Travel and this year is preparing for her next big adventure, whilst also training for her first Triathlon

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19 Responses

  1. Kari (Happy Coconuts Travel Blog)

    I love lions so much. They are so majestic and breath-taking. While I am not a big fan of zoos it seems like this place is doing a good job of raising awareness and promoting education about lions. Bhanu is gorgeous!

    Reply
    • LJ Legend

      I feel the same about Zoo’s, but what I love about ZSL London Zoo is the breeding programmes and the work the zoo does to help the animals in the wild. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Susanna Kelly

    This sounds like such an educational and great experience! I am glad the zoo is part of an ethical and educational organization to preserve these majestic creatures . They live action rescue looked really interesting. I’ll have to check out this zoo next time.

    Reply
    • LJ Legend

      It was an awesome experience and its worth visiting as the entrance fee goes to a good cause. Also if it had been a rescue with a live animal lol I’d probably looked from a distance lol

      Reply
  3. Deni

    Lions are such majestic creatures- I’m glad that the zoo is trying to help repopulate the species! (I’m also glad that they used a prop lion for the live action rescue.) Were the lions rescued from other zoos or do you know how they got there?

    Reply
  4. Brittany Hemming

    Lions are absolutely beautiful and majestic, I was lucky enough to see them in the wild a few times. I don’t love the idea of them being in a zoo but I am glad the zoo is trying to educate the public and raise awareness.

    Reply
    • LJ Legend

      I know what you mean about seeing animals in zoo’s, but I would rather see them in a s ZSL zoo then another zoo. They have never known the wild so I doubt they would survive now, which is heart breaking. But the great thing about ZSL is they do invest in these animals in their protection in the wild from poachers and farmers, to being able to better understand them more to treat and bread them to place them back in the wild etc…

      Reply
  5. Bianca

    Wow such an educational post and great post! Lions are awesome. The zoo is worth visiting. I personally love visiting zoos and looking at animals. Thanks for this post

    Reply
  6. Allison

    What a fantastic exhibit. From the photos it looks like you were able to get really close. Loved the fact that they used a replica lion for the demonstration Esther Han forcing a live lion to put on a show.

    Reply
  7. Alouise

    I’ve been to London a couple times now, but never really thought of visiting the zoo while I was there. This looks like it would be a really educational experience. It’s great the zoo is doing what they can for the conservation of these animals.

    Reply
  8. Maja | Mexatia

    Zagreb ZOO also built a new habitat for lions, but it can’t compare. London ZOO elevated lion conservations to some new level. It is great they are putting more effort in educating public and kids!

    Reply

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