The child within me just cannot get enough of visiting the zoo, I adore animals and the Beans are following in my footsteps. Now Hubby is very lucky in that he lived in South Africa when he was a child so he saw many amazing animals during his years there but I doubt very much that we will get the opportunity to take the Beans to see some of these animals in their natural habitat. A zoo is the next best thing for us BUT I won’t visit just any old zoo, I don’t like it when animals aren’t given sufficient enclosures.
Last week as we said goodbye to the Easter weekend and a fortnight of fun stretched out before us we kept Daddy home with us for an extra day, jumped in the car early and set off in the direction of London for a day at ZSL London Zoo to check out their newest exhibit – Land of the Lions. As you set foot inside the grand entrance to Land of the Lions you are immediately transported from London Zoo to India’s vibrant Sasan Gir. We love how the whole area has been redesigned to give you a submersive experience of where these Lions and their neighbouring animals really come from. From the colourful market stalls in the ‘village’ to the painted murals on the wall and the shrines, figurines, crumbling temple and guard hut, it really gives you an sense of these beautiful creatures NOT in a Zoo. The Beans were amazed by it all and the settings prompted so many more questions and active conversation than just watching a Pride of Lions in a cage ever did.
You wind your way around the exhibit by way of the three walkways which cover the 2,500sqm area. We were met at the entrance to Land of Lions by some of the Big Cat team who invited the Beans to help them with a ‘lion-emergency’ in the Gir Forest. They were each given a sticker so that other Big Cat Team members would know they were Trainee Forest Guards. They were also given a Patrol Observation Sheet which they had to work through as they made their way around Land of the Lions. Stamping stations were laid out so they could record their observations of the Lions spotted, their behaviour and other evidence of lions. They also needed to record whether they saw other species in the area. This was such a good way of firing up the children’s enthusiasm and encouraging them to take note of their surroundings rather than just running from one section to the next.
Designed to be the ultimate home for ZSL London Zoo’s Asiatic Lions Bhanu, Rubi, Heidi and Indi, the exhibit offers the Pride warm sunny spots to snooze in, places to shelter when they want privacy and good viewpoints to watch the world go by.
Asiatic Lion Fast Facts
- Lions can spend up to 20 hours a day sleeping
- Only 500 Asiatic Lions remain in the wild
- Asiatic Lions used to live in south Europe, north Africa and west Asia but can now only be found in India, in and around the Gir Forest.
- Asiatic Lions generally live in small prides of two or three females. Males tend to spend more time on their own than with females and cubs
What’s the difference between Asiatic and African Lions?
- Smaller (weighs 160-90kg)
- Males have a shorter, thinner mane
- Has a skin fold along it’s belly
- Bigger tufts of hair on its tail and elbows
- Bigger (weighs 150-230kg)
- Males have a bushy mane that can make it difficult to see their ears
- No skin fold along the belly
- Smaller tufts of hair on its tail and elbows
As a family we have been lucky enough to visit ZSL London Zoo many times over the years and we never tire of it, it’s such a good family day out and the addition of the Land of the Lions has definitely added to the great experience. In Land of the Lions you can make your day last even longer with a Sunset Safari or by staying overnight in the Gir Lion Lodge within roaring distance of the Lions. Guests can bed down for the night in luxury, bespoke accommodation and enjoy a delicious 2-course dinner, breakfast and exclusive tours led by knowledgeable and enthusiastic hosts.
Whether you love the insects, the fish, the big animals or the small there is something for everyone to see at ZSL London Zoo. We were only able to stay at the Zoo for 4 hours (because we decided to park on the roadside for just £7) so after visiting Land of the Lions we handed over the reigns of the day to the Beans to see some of their favourite animals.