Zoo's lion enclosure fence broken down by falling tree as Suffolk battered by Storm Eunice winds

The lion enclosure at Africa Alive was damaged by Storm Eunice
MUST credit: Amy Temperton Photography
The lion enclosure was badly damaged by a falling tree. Credit: Amy Temperton Photography

A Suffolk zoo's lion enclosure was broken open when a falling tree smashed a fence in high winds caused by Storm Eunice.

The damage to the enclosure at Africa Alive happened as storms of up to 80mph whipped through the East of England on Friday.

The Zoological Society of East Anglia, which runs Africa Alive and Banham Zoo in Norfolk, has launched a fundraiser to meet the costs of the damage, which has already amassed £63,000 in donations.

The enclosure usually houses six lions - males Zero, Tor and Jabu, and females Mo, Sarabi, and Kaya.

The zoo was closed at the time and had moved its lions indoors for their safety, in anticipation of high winds and flying debris.

The zoo, in Kessingland near Lowestoft, said it was its policy to move all its dangerous animals indoors when winds reached speeds of 40mph.

None of the animals were hurt in the incident, and the zoo said it would be closed until Tuesday, with a further announcement over opening due on Monday.

"This will give us time to start arranging the specialist repairs which will need to be done to the lions' enclosure fencing," it said in a statement on social media.

It said that repairing the enclosure was a priority.

"Despite lions living quite harmoniously in large prides, being confined in close quarters can obviously create tensions within the group.

"Our lions' health and welfare is our paramount concern and our dedicated keepers will go above and beyond to care for them and monitor their behavours until their enclosure can be fixed."

The smashed fence was among widespread damage caused by Storm Eunice across the East of England, which brought travel disruption and fallen trees.

In Bedford, a woman with a baby suffered serious injuries when a tree fell on her.

Across the UK and Ireland, four people died and many others were injured as the storm brought damage, disruption and potentially record-breaking gusts of wind.