Lions returning to Africa Alive after enclosure damaged in Storm Eunice

Africa Alive's pride of lions will return this weekend following storm damage that temporarily closed their enclosure

Africa Alive's pride of lions will return this weekend following storm damage that temporarily closed their enclosure - Credit: Africa Alive

A pride of lions who lost their enclosure due to damage caused by Storm Eunice are set to return to Africa Alive this weekend.

The lions had been rehomed at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in Dunstable since February, but will return with a 'welcome home' party at their new and improved enclosure at the Kessingland zoo.

While the lions have been away, work has taken place to repair the damaged fencing but also make improvements to the landscape of the enclosure for the lions – including adding a bark pit, two new raised platforms which were made by the keepers and a secondary holding yard to facilitate outdoor access for the lions in adverse weather.

The newly redecorated 'Kingdom of the Lion'

The newly redecorated 'Kingdom of the Lion' - Credit: Africa Alive

In addition, the ‘Kingdom of the Lion’ house has been completely redecorated and the visibility around the perimeter of the enclosure has been increased for visitors.

Graeme Williamson, head of living collections at Africa Alive Zoological Reserve, said: “We are delighted to welcome back our pride of lions, they have been sorely missed by visitors and keepers over the past 10 weeks.

“During this time, we have had teams of staff and contractors working tirelessly to replace the damaged section of the lion fence line and make suitable adjustments to facilitate bringing our pride home.

"The newly refurbished 'Kingdom of the Lion' has never looked better.

The lion enclosure at Africa Alive

One of the lions at Africa Alive - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

“We have been incredibly fortunate to have such good links with ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and are thankful to their staff for looking after Zero, Mo, Tor, Kaya and Jabu during their holiday in Bedfordshire.”

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Faye Bethell, zoological director at the Zoological Society of East Anglia, said: “We are so thankful to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo for taking such good care of our pride of lions over the past 10 weeks.

“Moving large cats from one location to another comes with significant challenges including the need for sedation to safely facilitate their transfer home which is not without risk and can often exacerbate age related health conditions.  

"Our pride’s safe return is of the utmost priority and our keepers are well prepared to help them settle back into their old home. 

"We hope the sights and smells of familiar surroundings will help ease their arrival, but our keepers and veterinary team will be monitoring them very closely over the next few weeks for any signs of ill health arising after such a move.”

To celebrate the lions return to Africa Alive, the zoo will be offering an exclusive £10 weekend ticket valid for Saturday, May 7 and Sunday, May 8.

Over the weekend, there will be various activities taking place across the zoo, including lion talks, a hands on ‘touch table’ featuring educational lion artefacts, and a new ‘Zero's African Adventure’ trail, named after one of the pride’s lions.