Lions arrive at Folly Farm

Hugo, Luna and their four cubs are settling well into their new home.

The pride of African lions is headed up by one adult male lion Hugo, his mate Luna and their four cubs, Sola, Zahra, Alika, and Ebele, who our new lion keepers had the privilege of naming.

Two of our four cubs, settling in well the day after they arrived

Hugo is six years old and was born in Knowsley Safari Park in Merseyside before meeting his mate Luna at Longleat Safari Park. Five year old Luna was born in Blackpool Zoo she gave birth to four cubs nine months ago while at Longleat.

Hugo and his gang set off from Longleat Safari Park on Tuesday morning and arrived with us around lunchtime and are now settling well into their new Welsh home.

Luna the lion and three cubs

Luna and her cubs

Two members of the Longleat team stayed to help with our lions settle in and to provide a full handover to the new keepers.

Tim Morphew, our zoo curator, said;

“Andy Hayton, the head of cats at Longleat Safari Park, was extremely impressed with how smooth the transition was on Tuesday and how calm Hugo and his family seemed with the move. It will take a while for the lions to completely settle in as the new enclosure doesn’t smell of lions yet, once they start exploring and marking their territory, they’ll feel right at home.”

The arrival of the pride marks the completion of a £500,000 project to build a purpose-built, state-of-the-art two-acre enclosure for the lions at Folly Farm.

It also highlights the valuable work the attraction already does with UK charity Wildlife Vets International as part of its commitment to conservation, raising awareness and funds for in-situ big cat conservation projects.

Rosie Badger our newly appointed lion keeper, added:

“Everybody at Folly Farm was so emotional when the lions arrived, I actually shed a tear. After months of preparation, training and visits to Longleat it was so great to see Hugo and his family in our enclosure. On the first night the lions were quite tired from their journey and they spent the first few hours slowly exploring their new den. They ate around 10 kilograms of raw beef for their first meal and the cubs cuddled up to Luna. It was a good sign that they were prepared to eat within hours of arriving in Wales and we’re hoping that they will be ready to meet the public from the third week of July.”

The new two acre lion enclosure is made up of four dens/bedrooms and visitors will be able to see the lions clearly in the house through large glass viewing windows.

Aerial view of the new lion enclosure at Folly Farm

Visitors will be able to enjoy clear and unrestricted views of the lions from three vantage points surrounding the outside enclosure.

Alongside the lion house is an education centre, themed as a fully-equipped ranger’s hut, which will provide visitors with information on African lions and the work carried out by rangers in the wild to monitor and protect them.

There will also be real life footage of an African Savannah and audio to help place young animal lovers in the natural habitat of the lions and deliver conservation messages about the threats facing lions in the wild.