We've welcomed a new Asiatic lion – Sahee.
The three-year-old joined Sonika, our four-year-old lioness, from Le Pal Zoo in central France on Thursday 1 August.
Keepers say Sahee who was born at the French zoo in 2016 is settling in well and is getting to know his new companion.
Sahee and Sonika’s introductions were carefully managed by our expert animal team, who have a long and successful track record of working with lions.
Sahee was left to settle into his new home quietly in the off-show dens before being given access to a paddock where he could see and smell Sonika. Once keepers were confident they were both displaying positive behaviours, the two met for the first time.
Curator of mammals at Bristol Zoo Gardens, Lynsey Bugg, described their first meeting: “We are very experienced in introducing new lions to each other but are always aware that introductions may not always go to plan. It is a sensitive process and we very much take the lions’ lead.
“On arrival, Sahee chose to stay in an off-show den while he got used to his new surroundings. Once he was ready to enter the front paddock, he and Sonika were able to see and smell each other. This all looked very positive so we made the decision to mix them.”
Sahee has replaced Ketan, who lived at the Zoo until his death earlier this year.
“Sonika has been very content in the lion enclosure since Ketan’s death in May”, explained Lynsey. “But as lions are social cats, myself and the team were keen to find a companion for her as soon as possible.”
Visitors can see Sahee and Sonika in the lion exhibit at here at the Zoo. Lion talks take place every day at 11am. There is also the chance to meet Sahee and Sonika during a private meet and feed experience, which is available for one to two people. Click here to find out more about the experience.
Asiatic lions are found in the state of Gujarat in India, where there are thought to be only several hundred left in the wild, in one area of forest. While the population is low, it has remained stable for the last couple of years thanks to conservation efforts and highlighting the plight of the only wild lions outside of Africa.
Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work in the Zoo, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.