ZSL London Zoo’s pride of Asiatic lions joined in the global celebrations for World Lion Day 2019 with the gift of a brand-new custom-built ‘seesaw’.
Designed to inspire the majestic cats to use their ingenuity, prowess and strength, the new feeding device was provided by ZSL sponsor Liontrust and enabled lionesses Heidi, Indi and Rubi to show off their natural hunting behaviour.
Asiatic lions predate on nilgai (also known as blue bulls) in the wild and use their incredible upper body strength to pull the large antelopes – which stand up to 1.5 metres tall and two metres long – to the ground. The Zoo’s new seesaw will emulate this; using weights to load down one end of the bar, food is attached to the elevated end encouraging the lions to reach up and hold down their meal.
The world’s only wild population of Asiatic lions reside in the Sasan Gir Forest in Gujarat, India. ZSL’s Land of the Lions exhibit has been carefully designed to replicate Sasan Gir, with a bustling Indian high street, colourful murals, ruined temple and a replica train station. In keeping with the exhibit, the seesaw has been painted to replicate a level crossing – as sun-warmed train tracks are a favourite resting spot for the wild big cats.
Kathryn Sanders, ZSL lion keeper said: “Placing the pride’s breakfast on the raised ‘seesaw’ encouraged them to use their natural skills to jump up and pull down the food, in the same way they would hunt large prey in the wild.
“The seesaw was gifted by ZSL’s sponsors Liontrust and will be a great addition to our daily enrichment programme – which encompasses all of the things we do to encourage the animals’ natural behaviour, keeping them mentally and physically stimulated.
“As an international conservation charity, our work extends far beyond the boundaries of ZSL London Zoo. The endangered Asiatic lions at ZSL London Zoo are ambassadors for the conservation work which is supported by ZSL in the Gir Forest, India.”
“We’re grateful to be celebrating another year of support from Liontrust on World Lion Day. Their support helped us to build a magnificent home for lions here at ZSL London Zoo and supports conservation of the big cats in the Gir National Park.”
Liontrust, the specialist fund management company, are proud supporters of our Asiatic Lions.