An update from Chief Curator, Malcolm Fitzpatrick

by ZSL on

An update from Chief Curator, Malcolm Fitzpatrick 

Just a few weeks ago we excitedly informed you all of our plans to move our three lionesses to Zoo Schwerin in Germany – where a brand-new home for Asiatic lions has been built. 

Well, today (22 December) was supposed to be moving day, but like many things this year, our plans have had to change at short notice due to factors far beyond our control. 

We use professional animal transporters to help us move our precious cargo, and along with shiny new travel crates that were purchased thanks to support from our corporate partners Liontrust, we had everything in place ready to go. The animal transporter was due to arrive the evening before, to be there ready for the lionesses to depart.

two female lions sat on a ledge

However, the animal transporter – based outside of the UK – was unable to enter the country, due to the ports being closed. With little clarity on when that will change, for both imports and exports, and with the wellbeing of our lionesses our number one priority, we’ve made the decision to hold off on moving them until we can be sure that their journey will be a straightforward one. 

We’ll be working closely with the Asiatic lion conservation breeding programme coordinator, Zoo Schwerin and all of the other organisations involved in these logistically complex moves in the New Year to work up our new plans to ensure they happen in 2021.

two lionesses at london zoo

We had hoped to complete these transfers as soon as the new exhibit at Zoo Schwerin was ready and before the Brexit transition period ends, as we anticipate that further animal move legislation will come into effect on January 1, but we’ve got every intention of the moves still going ahead. They’re an important step for the conservation breeding programme of this Critically Endangered species. In the meantime, our keepers have now got to get busy in the kitchen – they’ve got three extra Christmas dinners to prepare...! 

Despite being closed to the public, our teams are still working tirelessly to care for our animals. Please give what you can, we need your support now more than ever before.

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