LAND OF THE LIONS

Step off the tube and into the Gujarat state of India at London Zoo’s latest attraction, Land of the Lions.

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One male and three females have taken residency at the newest enclosure. Their new crib has room to roam and roar; but some privacy can be found in hidden caved outlets. (A lion likes a bit of Netflix time too you know. And yes Mufasa and Simba are up there in their list of favourites).

Having not ticked India off my travel bucket list yet, I can’t give marks to actual accuracy. But the South Asian majestic and authentic balance the designers have painted throughout the Lion’s new digs, certainly have a way of taking you out of Regent’s Park. Replica street markets, a food hut, carts, tuk tuks and shops complete the Indian wonderland – where attention to detail has been absolutely nailed. It’s as much fun exploring the intricate side of ZSL’s take on Gujarat as it is seeing the beautiful big cats explore their new habitat.

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We were lucky enough to swing by the pride at feeding time. The ladies did Beyoncé proud by being all independent in owning and chomping up the animal carcasses that were on the menu. It was just a shame that the arm of the keeper didn’t have the same power when it came to throwing the flesh beyond the Indian moat surrounding their territory.

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The main lad Bhanu was dominating his man den during our visit, so we didn’t actually get up close and personal with him. But when walking along one of the bridge walkways in the Gujarat compound, we were hit with terror and amazement when what we thought were really cool sound effects, happened to be Bhanu just voicing his thoughts on Donald Trump. His deep tones echoed through the entire Indian state and sent excitable chills and panic right through you. In a few month’s time, the Gir Lion Lodge Cabins open their doors to the public for sleepovers, so I’d imagine those roars will make for excellent alarm clocks.

With glass panels on several look-out points, Land of the Lions is probably as real as it’s ever going to get when rubbing snouts with jungle royalty. And did it #crackmybitchface? It certainly did. Having a face off with four of nature’s most stunning creations means that it’s pretty hard not to be blown away. Namaste Heidi, Indi, Rubi and Bhanu. It’s a pleasure to have you.

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