Live updates

Whipsnade Zoo's giant chalk lion gets a makeover

The refurbished Whipsnade White Lion. Credit: Whipsnade Zoo.

It's been the guardian of Dunstable Downs in Bedforshire for almost a century.

But now Whipsnade Zoo's iconic White Lion - a huge hillside chalk figure - has had a facelift.

Created in the 1930s, the 147m long lion had been starting to deteriorate.

But thanks to six months of work and 50 lorry loads of chalk it has now been spruced up.

During the Second World War, the lion was covered to prevent it from being used by enemy aircraft as a navigation point.

In May 1981, as part of ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s 50th anniversary celebrations, the lion was illuminated using 750 lightbulbs.

“As a site of Special Scientific Interest, the Whipsnade White Lion and the area around it are cared for by the Zoo all year round, using environmentally-friendly products to protect the native plants and animals.

"This new coating of chalk has made a huge difference to the eye-catching brilliance of the landmark and I can’t wait for all our Easter visitors, as well as our wonderful, local communities, to see it looking so great, as they drive towards the Zoo.”

– Owen Craft, General Manager

Advertisement

Watch: The Queen meets her namesake as she becomes zookeeper for the day

The Queen was introduced to her young namesake - an eight-month-old elephant called Elizabeth - as she became zookeeper for a day in Bedfordshire.

Staff at Whisnade Zoo told the royal visitors the calf was "doing wonderfully in the herd" and was quickly learning how to work with the keepers - including having her teeth checked.

After getting a tour of the new care centre, which she officially opened, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh headed outside to feed one of Elizabeth's companions, Donna.

The seven-year-old cow seemed very keen to get her trunk of the bananas - quickly grabbing one from the Queen's hands.

She twice had to be pointed in the direction of the Duke after trying to seek out more treats.

That's bananas! Queen shows how to win over a herd of elephants

The elephants were keen to get their trunks on the Queen's bananas. Credit: ITV News Anglia.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh have arrived at Whisnade Zoo in Bedfordshire - and have quickly got the elephants on side.

The pair have been feeding some of the nine Asian elephants housed in the new Centre for Elephant Care at the Zoological Society of London site.

After carefully offering some bananas, the Queen was snuffled by Donna, one of the youngest members of the herd, who was keen for some more.

The Duke of Edinburgh has a go. Credit: ITV News Anglia.

Advertisement

New 'Centre for elephant care' to open at Whipsnade Zoo

New 'Centre for elephant care' to open Credit: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

The elephants at Whipsnade Zoo near Dunstable will be packing their trunks this spring to move into a £2million enclosure.

The 'Centre for Elephant Care' will feature a new barn and viewing platform for visitors, all set in 20 acres of grass paddocks.

The new centre includes the following:

  • Soft sand flooring for comfort
  • Dimming lights to mimic night-time conditions
  • Feeding pods to release food regularly during the night
  • Six giaan oak trees for scratching posts.

The new centre will also have balcony viewing so visitors can watch the her. It's due to open at Easter.

Load more updates