If you and your kids are planning a trip to Bristol Zoo Gardens soon you will enjoy seeing a new addition to the zoo, an Asiatic lioness named Sonika!
The 3-year-old joined Ketan, the Zoo’s six-year-old male, from Cotswold Wildlife Park on 1st May and is settling in well and getting to know her new companion.
The lioness was born at the Oxfordshire wildlife park in 2016 and was one of three female cubs.
Sonika and Ketan’s introductions were carefully managed by the Zoo’s expert animal team, who have a long and successful track record of working with lions.
Sonika was left to settle in to her new home quietly in the off-show dens before being given access to a paddock where she could see and smell Ketan. Once keepers were confident they were both displaying positive behaviours, the two met for the first time.
Curator of mammals at Bristol Zoo Gardens, Lynsey Bugg, described their first get-together:
“We are experienced in introducing new lions to each other but were very aware that introductions don’t always go to plan. It’s a sensitive process and we very much take the lions’ lead.
“On arrival, Sonika chose to explore the off-show dens before entering our larger lion paddock, where the pair could see and smell each other through a mesh fence.
“They were left overnight and, on observation the following morning, we decided it was time to mix them. We are delighted to say that after some initial sniffing and dominance pawing, Ketan and Sonika are now gradually being introduced and are getting to know one another.”
Visitors can see Sonika and Ketan in their home at Bristol Zoo Gardens. Lion talks take place at the Zoo from Monday-Friday at 11am.
There is also the chance to meet Ketan and Sonika during a private meet and feed experience, available for one to two people.
To find out more, visit www.bristolzoo.org.uk