Lions return to Africa Alive in Suffolk after move to Whipsnade Zoo following Storm Eunice damage

Suffolk pride: The lions have returned to their home after a spell at Whipsnade
Lions sleep tonight - in their own home... The lions have returned after a spell at Whipsnade Credit: Africa Alive Zoological Reserve

A pride of lions at a Suffolk zoo who had to be moved to another zoo after storms wrecked their enclosure have returned home.

When Storm Eunice battered the region back in February, the 70mph winds brought down trees and damaged the enclosure fencing at Africa Alive.

The animals were moved from the park near Lowestoft to Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire while repair works took place.

And zookeepers took advantage of their absence to undertake their own version of DIY SOS - by not only patching up the damage but making a few improvements.

The enclosure at Africa Alive has undergone some improvements Credit: Africa Alive Zoological Reserve

The kings of the jungle - or Kessingland at least - can now enjoy a bark pit, two new raised platforms and a secondary holding yard to facilitate outdoor access for the Lions in bad weather.

In addition, the Kingdom of the Lion house has been completely redecorated and the visibility around the perimeter of the enclosure has been increased for visitors.

Graeme Williamson, head of living collections at Africa Alive Zoological Reserve, said: “We are delighted to welcome back our pride of lions - they have been sorely missed by visitors and keepers over the past 10 weeks.

“We have been incredibly fortunate to have such good links with ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and are thankful to their staff for looking after Zero, Mo, Tor, Kaya and Jabu during their holiday in Bedfordshire.”

Faye Bethell, zoological director at the Zoological Society of East Anglia, also thanked Whipsnade Zoo.

She said “Moving large cats from one location to another comes with significant challenges including the need for sedation to safely facilitate their transfer home, which is not without risk, and can often exacerbate age related health conditions.

"Our pride’s safe return is of the utmost priority and our keepers are well prepared to help them settle back into their old home.  

"We hope the sights and smells of familiar surroundings will help ease their arrival, but our keepers and veterinary team will be monitoring them very closely over the next few weeks for any signs of ill health arising after such a move.”