‘Farewell Sahee and Sonkia’ - Bristol Zoo’s lions depart for new home

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Bristol Zoo Gardens’ two lions have left the city and are heading to their new home at The Big Cat Sanctuary.

Asiatic lions, Sahee and Sonika moved into the Clifton site in 2019 before being transferred to the animal charity’s headquarters, in the heart of the Kent countryside, yesterday (March 3). Bristol Zoological Society closed Bristol Zoo in September 2022 and has confirmed it will open a new site at the Wild Place Project, in South Gloucestershire.

Sahee (male) and Sonika (female), both seven years old, have been moved to allow the Bristol Zoological Society to prioritise those species that most need protecting, improve animal welfare and deliver meaningful conservation work. At the new Bristol Zoo, 80% of the species will be linked to the Society’s conservation programmes around the world.

“Asiatic lions are not a species that we currently work with in the wild, so a new home was carefully selected for Sahee and Sonika to ensure the highest levels of care could continue for them both”, explained Al Toyne, team lead of mammals at Bristol Zoological Society.

“They will be missed and I’m sure many people who used to visit them at Bristol Zoo Gardens will be keen to visit them at their new home, which will be complete with quiet off-show dens, heated rocks to rest upon and more grassy areas to prowl”, Al added.

Sahee and Sonika will be joining a whole host of other exotic cat species at Big Cat Sanctuary, including tigers, snow leopards, puma, lynx and jaguar. Asiatic lions are from 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.

For more information about their new home at The Big Cat Sanctuary, visit: thebigcatsanctuary.org

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