12 April 2021

On Thursday (8 April) we waved a fond fur-well to our trio of lionesses, as they set off on their journey to Schwerin Zoo in Germany.     

Lion cubs Heidi and Indi play with boomer ball

Rubi, Heidi and Indi – all sisters who were born here at London Zoo, were originally due to move last year but a combination of COVID and Brexit meant that our plan A wasn’t meant to be. 

The lionesses' move delayed by the pandemic and Brexit

Delays and queues at UK ports in December, caused by the pandemic and the then-looming Brexit deadline, meant we had to make the decision to pause on their move – we simply wouldn’t send the lionesses on their way without the guarantee that their journey would be a smooth one. However, this meant that we missed the Brexit cut-off on 31 December, and had to effectively restart the process to move the lionesses. 

Asian lioness Heidi cheers on England in World Cup with a ball decorated with the England flag

Our Liontrust partners supported this entire move

Our animal moves coordinator has been working non-stop on this, as it’s not as simple as booking a ticket online when you’re sending three big cats on a 550-mile journey. Luckily their baggage was one thing we didn’t have to worry about, thanks to ZSL’s partners Liontrust who have supported this entire move. Liontrust ensured we were able to have custom-built crates made for the girls’ travels, and their ongoing support for our Asiatic lions is invaluable. 

Queen Elizabeth I in a light blue coat and hat, standing in front of lioness at London Zoo land of Lions opening in 2016.

The crates have been in the lionesses’ bedrooms for months now, where they’ve been using them as extra cosy spots for snoozing - this means that yesterday we were able to call the girls in from the outside paddock one by one, and they walked straight into their own travel crate. Lined with sawdust for comfort, the crates are fitted with custom-designed feeding portals so that they can enjoy water and a snack on the road. Once they were all inside, we simply moved their crates into the van and they were on their way.

Asiatic lion Heidi plays with giant Christmas pudding ball gifted by the Liontrust

The lionesses are moving as part of the European breeding programme

The feisty felines are moving as part of the European breeding programme – their departure paves the way for us to introduce a new female to our male Bhanu in the near future.  These moves help ensure that we preserve the genetic diversity of the animals in the breeding programme, and protect a healthy, back-up population of these Endangered animals for the future. 

It’s impossible for zookeepers to not feel sad when animals you work with every day move on to another zoo – and it’s no different with Rubi, Heidi and Indi. Lots of us have known them since they were cubs; we’ve watched them grow into beautiful adults and got to know their individual quirks and personalities. They will be missed a lot, but we’re equally excited to have a new female join our pride and to see what the future holds for our Land of the Lions family. 

Visit our Land of the Lions habitat

  • Asiatic lion Bhanu poses surrounded by autumn leaves
    Panthera leo persica

    Asiatic lion

    There are only several hundred Asiatic lions in the wild, and they only live in the Gir Forest, India, in an area that is smaller than Greater London.

  • Asiatic lioness Arya poses in her enclosure at London Zoo

    Land of the Lions

    Be transported from the heart of London to India’s vibrant Sasan Gir in London Zoo's Land of the Lions

  • Land of the Lions at London Zoo
    Colourful and lively back drop for your evening event

    Land of the Lions - venue hire

    This breath-taking habitat transports visitors from the heart of London to India’s vibrant Sasan Gir providing up to 300 guests with the opportunity to be closer than ever before to mighty Asiatic lions, in truly beautiful and unique outdoor space. 

  • Sumatran tiger Gaysha in London Zoo's Tiger Territory
    Our tiger family

    Tiger Territory

    Meet the rarest tiger on earth, and be inspired to recover wildlife with us.

  • Sumatran tiger Gaysha walking in her Tiger Territory home at London Zoo
    Panthera tigris sondaica

    Sumatran tiger

    Sumatran tigers are smallest and rarest tiger, and they have the deepest orange colour of all the tiger subspecies.

  • Book now to visit our animals at London Zoo
London Zoo Newsletter
Get the latest updates about exciting animal news from the Zoos, upcoming events, experiences, offers