Chapter one - The banyan tree
Sunny the lion cub is two months old.
His first few days were spent as a squirmy ball of fluff, blind and completely helpless. He and his two sisters spent all day drinking milk, mewing at his mum and snoozing in her belly fur.
But now he’s a bit bigger - almost the size of a jungle cat he once spotted before running away as fast as he could - and he can see, run and pounce. He has bright blue eyes and a speckled coat. It glimmers silvery grey, rather majestically in the sunshine - although it is still… quite… fluffy.
He and his sisters love playing together. And when they’re not sleeping, or glugging milk greedily, they spend most of their time scrambling around in their bit of the forest. Getting braver by the day, they tackle and wrestle each other, splatting Mum’s flicking tail and chasing anything they can - like spiders, lizards and… well sometimes leaves.
Mum is pretty fun, she bats them around with her huge paws and brings them insects to play with. But she also insists on licking them a lot - and she has a very rough tongue. Sometimes her licking is so fierce they get knocked off their paws - and then she starts all over again.
Every morning their home is filled with the sound of roaring lions. When one starts in the distance they all join in across the forest. Sunny’s never seen another grown-up lion but he takes part in the chorus, roaring with all his might. Right now it does sound a little bit like a squeak…but it’s definitely getting stronger…sort of.
He’s never gone further than a few metres from the giant banyan tree where he and his sisters were born. Full of massive branches, swinging langur monkeys, and lots of tangly roots, it’s always given them shelter - especially when Mum disappears for almost a whole day every so often.
But something’s up, today she wants to take them somewhere new. On shaky paws they start to follow her through the thorny forest, mewing. Sunny doesn’t want to leave, he wants to stay where it’s safe and play and sleep and drink milk.
But she marches on, her tail sticking in the air so they can see her even when the bushes grow thick. As they venture forward, the banyan tree behind them gets smaller and smaller until it disap-pears completely, the chirruping of its langur monkeys fading into the distance.
And everything before them is unknown.
There are only about 650 of these awesome animals living in the wild and being situated in just one area makes them extremely vulnerable. With your help we’re working to protect them and hun-dreds of other animals around the world.
Watch out for chapter two coming soon!
Select a blog
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.
Ever wondered what a typical day as a zookeeper looks like, or what it's like to be a videographer at ZSL? Now you can find out!
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 extracts from ZSL's award winning members' magazine, Wild About.
Get updates on our latest ranges, be the first to hear about special offers, and find the perfect gift for animal lovers!
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 Institute of Zoology researchers are embarking on an exciting fieldwork expedition to Nelson’s Island in the Chagos Archipelago. Throughout the month, the team will share their research and experiences on an uninhabited tropical island!
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.