Bristol Zoo Gardens has welcomed a new Asiatic lion – Sahee.

The three-year-old male joined Sonika, the Zoo’s four-year-old lioness, from Le Pal Zoo in central France last Thursday (1 August).

Asiatic lions are found in the state of Gujarat in India, where there are thought to be only several hundred left in the wild.

While the population is low, it has remained stable for the last couple of years thanks to conservation efforts.

Keepers say Sahee is settling in well with his new companion. The zoo released footage of the two lions getting to know each other:

Bristol Zoo's expert animal team were careful to watch over Sahee and Sonika's introductions.

Sahee was given time to settle into his new home in the off-show dens before being brought into a paddock where he could see and smell Sonika.

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.

Lynsey Bugg

Visitors can see Sahee and Sonika in the lion exhibit at Bristol Zoo.