End of an era as Bristol Zoo lions moved to new big cat sanctuary in Kent

  • Watch Victoria Davies' report

Two lions that have been at the heart of Bristol Zoo for years have finally been moved to a big cat sanctuary in Kent.

Lions have been a feature at the city's Zoo for more than a century with their departure marking the end of an era.

The Clifton site closed in September, but it's taken weeks of training to get the lions safely into the crate ready to be taken to their new home in the Kent countryside.

The two lions successfully left their home of six years for good earlier today (March 3).

Becky Scott, an animal keeper at the Zoo has said: "We want to make the move as stress-free and hassle-free as possible both for the people and for the lions so we've tried to make it a really positive experience for them.

"We've had the crates in place for about a month and we've been working really hard at actually getting them to voluntarily walk into the crates and be shut into the crates.

"They get a fantastic tasty reward for doing that and on the day it's nothing new and nothing scary."

The lions were greeted with tasty treats in their crates. Credit: ITV News

For the team who have been working with the Asiatic lions for years, seeing them leave was an emotional moment.

Becky added: "I've been really privileged to be able to work with these fantastic lions for the last six years and as an animal keeper when they leave a little piece of my heart is going to go with them.

"I think the first morning I walk in and I'm not going to be able to hear the lions will be very strange."

A Bristol Zoo animal keeper says goodbye to the lion she's helped care for. Credit: ITV News

Bristol zoo's new site, The Wild Place Project will only care for animals that are most in need.

Hannah Windross from the Bristol Zoological Society said: "In the new zoo 80% of the animals will be directly linked to our conservation work.

"That means we can really focus our efforts on the animals that most need supporting and most need saving.

"That means some animals are moving with us and some animals are being re-homed elsewhere."