Family attraction, Dartmoor Zoo, has welcomed two lionesses from Longleat Safari Park. Ten-year-old sisters, Kimya and Nikita, were introduced to Dartmoor Zoo on 26th March after travelling from Longleat in Wiltshire, where they have lived since 2011, after being introduced from Blackpool Zoo.
In the wild, the population of African Lions has decreased by 43%* in 21 years, and they were declared ‘vulnerable’ in 1996 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The public will soon be able to see the stunning big cats at the Plymouth based zoo, once keepers are comfortable with how the lionesses have acclimatised to their new surroundings.
Dartmoor Zoo’s Curator commented: “We’re delighted with how the two lionesses are settling in so far, and are looking forward to slowly introducing them to our male African lion Jasiri in the future. At this stage, Kimya and Nikita are getting to know their new home and acclimatising to the new surroundings. Jasiri’s enclosure is next door which allows them to see, hear and smell each other. The keepers will closely monitor the lions and make a judgement about when it is appropriate to introduce them.
“Our priority is to educate and inspire the general public about wildlife conservation and improve captive animal management by providing a safe environment for animals under threat in the wild.
“Our keepers are incredibly passionate about what they do and believe that being a resource for the public to learn about animal behaviour and the value of conservation in the world is highly important.”
Dartmoor Zoo was established in 2007 when Benjamin Mee and his family bought an ailing zoo. Since then Ben, his family and team have built the Zoo into the popular tourist attraction it is today. Ben wrote a book about his experience and in 2011 it was made into the Hollywood Film ‘We Bought a Zoo’ starring Matt Damon. In 2014 the Zoo became a charity, of which Ben is CEO. Today the Zoo is heavily involved in research, conservation and education projects to promote the welfare of animals and to enrich both the lives of humans and animals.
Dartmoor Zoo is offering all mothers and grandmothers free entry on Mother’s Day, Sunday 31st March. To visit the zoo free of charge this Sunday, 10am – 4pm, all you need to do is bring your child and enjoy a fun-filled day out getting to know the zoo’s wild and wonderful residents.
Visitors are invited to spend the day exploring the zoo from head to toe and learning about the importance of wildlife conservation. There’s so much to see and do at Dartmoor Zoo, from clapping your eyes on Chinca the jaguar to getting up close and personal with the resident reptiles.
Normal admissions apply for Children aged 4-15 (£8.95), children aged 3 and under go free. For groups visiting with five or more individuals qualifying for free entry, a donation is advised.
To find out more about Dartmoor Zoo visit www.dartmoorzoo.org.uk.