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Fearless Longleat lioness shocks keepers with tree-climbing skills

Kiana the lioness pictured among the branches. Credit: PA

A fearless lioness shocked her keepers at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire after scaling a 20-metre high tree.

Eight-year-old Kiana was discovered lurking among the branches after climbing a giant sycamore tree in her wooded enclosure.

Keepers say the young lioness has always been a keen climber ever since she was a cub but they have never seen any of the lions venture quite so far off the ground.

Many of our lionesses do go up trees here at Longleat but there are a few particular individuals who seem to do it just for fun and Kiana is definitely one of those.

She’s definitely in a class of her own when it comes to climbing and she seemed perfectly at home up there as she fearlessly made her way from branch to branch.

– Caleb Hall, keeper

As part of the lions’ environmental enrichment, their keepers will often hide food among the branches as it provides a good workout and allows them to use muscles required for hunting and grabbing hold of prey.

Kiana has been climbing since she was a cub, according to her keepers. Credit: PA

Kiana’s definitely a star performer and doesn’t need the added incentive of a meal to head into the canopy.

It’s behaviour which is also seen in the wild to find as individuals seek either shade or a cooling breeze away from the heat of the ground or to avoid insects or animals threatening the lions.

It’s mainly the females who make all the effort but we have seen our male lions climb trees for food, which would also happen in the wild to steal the stashed kills of leopards.

– Caleb

Lions at Longleat

Lions have lived at Longleat since 1966 when it became the first place outside of Africa to open a drive-through safari.

Lions have lived at Longleat since 1966. Credit: PA

Today, it is home to two separate prides as well as cheetahs, tigers, wolves, rhinos, zebras and giraffes.

Large male lions can grow to over three metres in length and weigh more than 240kgs while females are just under two metres long and reach a maximum of 180kgs.

Their life expectancy in the wild is approximately 12 years but they can expect to live to almost twice that age in captivity.