Lucifer, a 30-stone male Asian lion, has been surrounded by ZSL London Zoo’s team of vets and keepers as they carried out a health check ahead of him moving home.
The 11-year-old lion is moving to another breeding group this week as the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) launches its Lions400 campaign – an ambitious public fundraising campaign designed to raise £5.7m for the endangered Asian lion.
The campaign will include the building of a new state-of-the-art lion breeding centre and visitor experience, as well as the extension of vital conservation work in the field where only several hundred Asian lions are left in the wild.
Lucifer’s female cubs will remain with the Zoo to begin a new breeding group, which visitors will be able to see when the new exhibit opens in 2016.
Ahead of his check-up, keepers trained Lucifer to lean against a wall so he could be anesthetised with a handheld injection; removing the need to use a tranquiliser dart. Vet Tai Strike then gave him a thorough examination while he lay in his enclosure, including his stomach, chest, and even peering inside his mouth to check Lucifer’s razor-sharp teeth.
Lucifer, named after his studbook number of 666, has been given a clean bill of health ahead of his move.
Zoological Director David Field says: “The Asian lion is at crisis point, with only 400 left in the wild; clinging on to survival as a single population in one Indian forest. Just one forest fire outbreak or disease epidemic could wipe this species out forever. Our Lions400 campaign is fighting to save this ancient species, and we are calling on the public to show their support.
“Lucifer’s move signals the first step in our campaign and will enable plans to be put into place for a new conservation breeding hub and exhibit at the Zoo; ensuring we have a back-up population for the future. At the same time, funds raised will also allow us to urgently expand our field conservation projects and help protect Asian lions in the wild.”
Find out more about ZSL’s Asiatic Lions campaign at www.zsl.org/lions