On Thursday (8 April) we waved a fond fur-well to our trio of lionesses, as they set off on their journey to Schwerin Zoo in Germany.
Rubi, Heidi and Indi – all sisters who were born here at London Zoo, were originally due to move last year but a combination of COVID and Brexit meant that our plan A wasn’t meant to be.
Delays and queues at UK ports in December, caused by the pandemic and the then-looming Brexit deadline, meant we had to make the decision to pause on their move – we simply wouldn’t send the lionesses on their way without the guarantee that their journey would be a smooth one. However, this meant that we missed the Brexit cut-off on 31 December, and had to effectively restart the process to move the lionesses.
Our animal moves coordinator has been working non-stop on this, as it’s not as simple as booking a ticket online when you’re sending three big cats on a 550-mile journey. Luckily their baggage was one thing we didn’t have to worry about, thanks to ZSL’s partners Liontrust who have supported this entire move. Liontrust ensured we were able to have custom-built crates made for the girls’ travels, and their ongoing support for our Asiatic lions is invaluable.
The crates have been in the lionesses’ bedrooms for months now, where they’ve been using them as extra cosy spots for snoozing - this means that yesterday we were able to call the girls in from the outside paddock one by one, and they walked straight into their own travel crate. Lined with sawdust for comfort, the crates are fitted with custom-designed feeding portals so that they can enjoy water and a snack on the road. Once they were all inside, we simply moved their crates into the van and they were on their way.
The feisty felines are moving as part of the European breeding programme – their departure paves the way for us to introduce a new female to our male Bhanu in the near future. These moves help ensure that we preserve the genetic diversity of the animals in the breeding programme, and protect a healthy, back-up population of these Endangered animals for the future.
It’s impossible for zookeepers to not feel sad when animals you work with every day move on to another zoo – and it’s no different with Rubi, Heidi and Indi. Lots of us have known them since they were cubs; we’ve watched them grow into beautiful adults and got to know their individual quirks and personalities. They will be missed a lot, but we’re equally excited to have a new female join our pride and to see what the future holds for our Land of the Lions family.
Select a blog
Our people are our greatest asset and we realise our vision for a world where wildlife thrives through their ideas, skills and passion. An inspired, informed and empowered community of people work, study and volunteer together at ZSL.
A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo, bringing you extraordinary animal facts and exclusive access to the world's oldest scientific zoo.
Do you love wildlife? Discover more about our amazing animals at the UK's biggest zoo!
We're working around the world to conserve animals and their habitats, find out more about our latest achievements.
From the field to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.
A day in Discovery and Learning at ZSL is never dull! The team tell us all about the exciting sessions for school children, as well as work further afield.
Every month, one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the Month.
Read testimonials from our Members and extracts from ZSL's award winning members' magazine, Wild About.
The Chagos archipelago is a rare haven for marine biodiversity. Hear from the team about our projects to protect the environments in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).
ZSL works across Asia, from the famous national parks of Nepal to marine protected areas in the Philippines. Read the latest updates on our conservation.
An Open Access journal for research at the interface of remote sensing, ecology and conservation.