- £5.7million development will increase size of lions' lair by five times
- Project will include wooden lodges which families can rent out overnight
- Costing nearly £400, guests will be 'within a whisker' of the Asiatic lions
- Nine private cabins will have interior décor inspired by the Indian forest
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Would you pay £387 to spend the night with the lions of London Zoo? Attraction due to open guest lodge within new enclosure
Forget exotic safaris or jungle trails – soon a sleepover with a pride of lions will be just a train journey away.
London Zoo is building a guest lodge inside its new enclosure which is to open in spring next year.
But waking up to the roars of Asiatic lions doesn't come cheap – at almost £400 a couple for one night.
The £5.7million redevelopment of the lion enclosure will give the animals 2,500 sq metres (27,000 sq ft) of space to roam in – more than five times the area they currently have.
London Zoo is building a guest lodge inside its new enclosure which is to open in spring next year. But waking up to the roars of Asiatic lions doesn't come cheap – at almost £400 a couple for one night
Starting in the spring, visitors will be able to stay overnight within the enclosure.
Safety measures will ensure the lions are kept well away from the lodge, but the zoo promises guests will be 'within a whisker' of the Asiatic lions.
However, the cost of an overnight stay in 'the Land of the Lions' will make a significant dent in your pocket – starting at £378 for a couple.
But this is still cheaper than flying to the Gir Forest in India, the home of London Zoo's lions and where only around 400 Asiatic lions remain in the wild.
Accommodation is limited to just nine private cabins, with décor inspired by the guest houses in Sasan Gir on the edge of the Indian forest.
The zoo promises guests a sumptuous meal as well as an evening tour with guests 'a whisker away' from the lions.
Come on in:Starting in the spring, visitors will be able to stay overnight within the enclosure. Safety measures will ensure the lions are kept well away from the lodge, but the zoo promises guests will be 'within a whisker' of the Asiatic lions
Tickets go on sale on Saturday and the first overnight stays begin in May next year.
In the morning guests will be treated to breakfast and an exclusive morning tour to see the animals before the zoo opens to visitors.
The new enclosure will also house project to breed more of the endangered lions to help their survival.
The zoo's lionesses, five-year-old Ruby and three-year-old twins Heidi and Indi, were moved to Whipsnade Zoo's 600-acre site in Bedfordshire, while the new enclosure is being built.
Meanwhile Lucifer, the 12-year-old, 30-stone male of the pride is living at Paignton Zoo.
It is the first time in living memory that London Zoo has been without lions.
Emma Taylor, head of product development at the zoo, said: 'ZSL London Zoo is a magical place at night – we wanted people of all ages to have a chance to enjoy that magic, and immerse themselves in a fantastic experience unlike any other, sleeping near to our magnificent Asiatic lions.
'It's hard to believe you're in the heart of the capital when you're surrounded by the noises of the wild.
'Staying overnight at the Gir Lion Lodge in London's most unique destination will give guests the chance to explore the Zoo on a hosted tour, while helping to fund our work for wildlife around the world.'
As well as the lodge, the zoo is recreating the 'hustle and bustle' of a modern Indian village within the enclosure – which will include an Indian train station, a conservation centre for rangers and an abandoned ancient fort.
The zoo recently appealed for props that might help the recreation, including 'old, well-used bikes', vintage weighing scales, old benches and Indian decorations such as plastic garlands.
There have been lions at London Zoo since 1832, with the first ones brought in from a menagerie at the Tower of London. Records show that lions have been kept at the Tower since 1210.