Blackpool Zoo will open the doors to its state-of-the-art, purpose-built £1.5 million Big Cat Habitat on Friday. The new facility combines increased indoor space, extended external paddocks and improved keeper facilities – all of which will enable the best possible care for the animals. Each side of the house has a large indoor area including heated mock rocks and extended viewing windows.
Khari, the African lion, who was born at Blackpool Zoo in 2015, will head up a new pride with three females, who arrived from West Midland Safari Park.
Emma and Narla, who are 18 and Hira, who will be four in September, all lived in a large, diverse pride and have close bonds with each other. Keepers describe Emma and Narla as quite strong individuals, whilst Hira is more of a gentle soul who looks to them for leadership. They will form a breeding group as part of the European Endangered Species Programmes (EEP), with the females all helping each other to raise any cubs.
Next to the lion enclosure the tiger area has also been extended with bigger indoor and outdoor spaces, which have been designed in a similar manner.
Alyona the Amur tiger has been residing at Woodside Wildlife Park in Lincolnshire.
A male tiger will be joining her to form a non-breeding companion pair later in the year.
Darren Webster, Zoo Director, said: ‘We are thrilled with the progress on our new and improved facility for our big cats. The house and outdoor areas have been meticulously planned out to secure the long-term future of big cat species at Blackpool Zoo. It is the latest in a series of significant investments in the last decade and each one improves the environment for our much-loved animals, dedicated staff and valued visitors. It marks another very important milestone in the advancements of animal husbandry in recent years.’