ZSL London Zoo’s loved-up lion pair were treated to a special Valentine’s surprise, by the supporters who bought the two of them together.
Hearts made from recycled fire-hose and scented with Arya and Bhanu’s favourite spices were dotted around their Indian-inspired Land of the Lions home for the big cats to play with, after being gifted by ZSL’s supporters Liontrust.
The more inquisitive of the two, Arya was first to spy the new Valentines-inspired décor, and stealthily crept up on the unsuspecting hanging object. Bhanu, who is more cautious by nature, couldn’t resist the smell of cinnamon and was soon enjoying rubbing his mane into the irresistible scents.
Long-time supporters of the Zoo’s Asiatic lion pride and its international conservation projects, asset-management company Liontrust stepped in to help with the final stages of a complex schedule of animal moves in order to bring Arya, to meet her future mate Bhanu at London Zoo in 2021.
Matched as part of the international breeding programme for endangered species, coordinated by EAZA’s (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria) big cat specialists, the hope is that the two will breed in future. However, Arya’s move from Paignton Zoo couldn’t happen until the three females that previously resided at London had moved to a new home in Germany. Liontrust sponsored the moves of all four lions, including the creation of custom-made travel crates so that the precious cargo could travel in utmost comfort.
Kathryn Sanders, head big cat keeper at ZSL London Zoo said: “Arya and Bhanu were absolutely thrilled with their Valentine’s treats from Liontrust. The firehose hearts are great enrichment for the big cats, stimulating their natural curiosity and they loved the scented surprise decorating their Indian-inspired home.
“Liontrust helped us to bring these two lions together last year, and following careful introductions, where we’ve been monitoring all of their interactions, we’re delighted that the two have formed a very close bond – so we have our fingers crossed for the future!”
Corporate partners such as Liontrust enable ZSL to care for Asiatic lions like Arya and Bhanu, and support partners in India to safeguard theses big cats in their last remaining wild habitat, the Gir Forest. This vital contribution to funding allows ZSL to work towards creating a world where wildlife thrives. In return ZSL’s corporate partners display their commitment to sustainability, conservation and education.