Three lions to get big new enclosure at Amsterdam’s Artis zoo

Photo: Ronald van Weeren via Artis
Photo: Ronald van Weeren via Artis

Artis has started work on a new lions enclosure, nearly a year after the zoo’s three big cats narrowly escaped being sent to a French animal park as a cost cutting measure.

Artis has three lions, a three-year-old male and two lionesses of eight and nine years old. Their old enclosure dates from 1927 and is a listed building but, measuring just 150 square metres, it had long been deemed too small for big cats.

The zoo’s income plummeted during the coronvirus pandemic, prompting the zoo to announce the lions would have to go, but a last-minute reprieve in the shape of generous donations from two undisclosed well-wishers prompted a rethink.

The new accommodation, designed by landscape architect Thijs de Zeeuw, will be located at the back of the zoo where other enclosures have been freed up to give the lions ten times as much space.

‘Here we can offer the lions a much more natural environment. The design is based on the savanna landscape, where the lions can climb up hills and survey their surroundings, play in the sand along the water or hide in the cave that lines the enclosure. The path through the cave has a peep hole which brings visitors face to face with the animals,’ zoo spokesman Tjerk ter Meulen said.

The new enclosure is scheduled to be finished by next summer.

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