Sensory enrichment for our lions

by ZSL on

Enrichment is so important for all of our animals, and our lions loved playing in a pile of autumn leaves! 

Enrichment is so important for all of our animals no matter their species as it is a way to stimulate the individual and can also encourage natural behaviours and instincts. 

For our lions, enrichment can be a real trial and error, as they are very particular with what they like. So we try to think of the natural behaviours that they would display in the wild and how we can stimulate them as individuals to show these behaviours.

There are many types of sensory enrichment including food based, texture, sound and scent, so we like to change things all the time for our pride, covering at least one of these types of enrichment.

Asiatic lion Bhanu in a mountain of fallen leaves at ZSL London Zoo

Here we have given our lions a pile of autumn leaves with a pumpkin spice mix in it to play with and it has given them a huge amount of enjoyment. All members of the pride are involved, playing around. The girls are exceptionally happy - we can see them sharing the pile together, rolling around and listening to the rustle of the leaves. They really enjoy the scent from the pumpkin spice too. You can see them getting into it with their backs and heads, so much so that its even making them sneeze over it!  

Bhanu is also really enjoying his enrichment - again he’s been rolling around and flehming from the scent which is great to see. Flehming is a natural behaviour that a male or female can display when there is a scent that really draws their interest. 

You know when any enrichment has been successful because of the length of time they have played with it. Our autumn leaf pile has not only drawn their attention straight away, they have swapped and taken it in turns, even allowing Bhanu to participate. The girls have returned to it again, and they have displayed behaviours of asking permission to join in– such as Indi head rubbing her sister Rubi so she can then come back on. The leaf pile has worked really well, with the lions displaying lots of natural behaviours and clearly enjoying themselves! 

Liontrust, the specialist fund management company, are proud supporters of our Asiatic Lions.

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Visit our Asiatic lions at ZSL London Zoo

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