FOLLY Farm Adventure Park and Zoo will be welcoming a pride of African lions next week.

Heading up the already well-established pride is the handsome Hugo, who is accompanied by a family of lionesses and their cubs. They are due to transfer from Longleat Safari Park on Tuesday (weather permitting).

The lions will make their home in a £500,000 purpose-built, state-of-the-art two-acre enclosure, of which the Western Telegraph was given an exclusive tour of this morning (Friday).

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 protect them.

Zoo manager at Folly Farm, Tim Morphew said, “We are really excited about the lions arriving at Folly Farm, 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.”

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.