Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo will be welcoming a pride of African lions to its growing family of animals next week.
The pride is made up of one adult male lion, and a family of lionesses and juvenile lions, who will all be coming from Longleat Safari Park, helping to make it a flagship exhibit for not only Wales but also the growing Pembrokeshire attraction.
The arrival of the pride marks the completion of a £500,000 project to build a purpose-built, state-of-the-art two-acre enclosure for the lions at Folly Farm.
It also highlights the valuable work the attraction already does with UK charity Wildlife Vets International as part of its commitment to conservation, raising awareness and funds for in-situ big cat conservation projects.
Although the pride will arrive on site at Folly Farm next week there will be a period of familiarisation for a few days to allow the lions to adjust to their new home. During this time they will be off public display.
Zoo manager at Folly Farm, Tim Morphew said: “We are really excited about the lions arriving at Folly Farm next week, we will just need to give them a week to settle in and explore their new surroundings before they are on view to the public. During this time they will remain in the lion house which is made up of four large dens and five outside yards.
“After a week they will be given the opportunity to explore their two acre enclosure at their own pace and depending on how quickly they re-adjust we are hoping that they will be on full public display from the third week of July.”
Jon Cracknell, Director of Animal Operations at Longleat Safari Park said, “The new lion enclosure at Folly Farm is extremely impressive. When I was given a tour of the flagship exhibit I was overwhelmed by the great deal of thought that has gone into every aspect of the design of the enclosure. Tim has taken time to consider everything from the health and well-being of the animals, to enhancing the visitor experience and educating people on the threats facing the African lion in the wild.”
“It is an enclosure that Folly Farm should be very proud of and I know that our lions will be very happy to make it their new home.”
Heading up the pride is adult male lion, Hugo, who is accompanied by a family of lionesses, and their offspring.
They are already a well-established pride and Folly Farm has no plans to breed for the foreseeable future until such a time a coordinated breeding programme is established for the African lion.
The species is currently classified as vulnerable on the IUCN red list but it is estimated that numbers of African lions in the wild have declined by as much as 30% in the last ten years.
The lion’s new enclosure is made up of four dens/bedrooms and visitors will be able to see the lions clearly in the house due to large glass viewing windows.
These 39mm thick, laminated, bullet proof windows also provide clear and unrestricted views of the lions from three vantage points within the perimeter fence surrounding the outside enclosure.
Alongside the lion house is an education centre, themed as a fully-equipped ranger’s hut, which will provide visitors with information on African lions and the work carried out by rangers in the wild to monitor and protect them, real life footage of an African Savannah, audio to help place the visitors in the natural habitat of the lions and to deliver a hard-hitting conservation message about the threats which face lions in the wild such as canned hunting and a ranger’s jeep for young visitors to explore and enjoy pretending to be a ranger.