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London Zoo wins planning for Ray Hole-designed lion exhibit

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London Zoo has won planning for a new lion enclosure designed by Ray Hole Architects

The new enclosures within the 7,695m² Regents Park site have been designed to house the zoo’s lions, primates and vultures and provide a more natural setting for the animals without compromising on visitor space.

The plans were approved by Westminster Council last night (August 19) and have been supported by English Heritage.

London Zoo is home to a number of listed buildings including Berthold Lubetkin’s grade I-listed penguin pool, which neighbours the lion exhibit but is not considered to be affected by the current proposals.

According to plans, the current 750m² lion enclosure would be enlarged to approximately 2,190m² by constructing an elevated walkway and a 360-degree viewing experience which will see viewers surrounded by lions on all sides.

The landscaping is also expected to be remodelled to provide a more natural setting for the lions and has been based on the Gir Forest in Gujarat, which is home to the last-remaining population of wild Asiatic lions in the world.

Following the Asiatic theme, the plans also include a walk-through temple for part of the Asiatic Lion enclosure which has been inspired by traditional temples on the Indian subcontinent. The enclosure design has incorporated a semi-urban element which reflects the proximity of human populations to the lion’s traditional habitat in India.

The proposals had been put forward to improve animal welfare at the zoo and create a legible visitor circulation pattern with an anchor exhibit for the south west corner of the zoo.

The project forms part of the Zoological Society London’s Lions400 campaign, which aims to raise £5.7million to create a new state-of-the-art lion breeding centre and exhibit, as well as extend vital conservation work in India where only 400 Asian lions are left in the wild.

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