Sunday, 1 May 2016

Land of the Lions - London Zoo

The lions are back at London Zoo after a holiday in Whipsnade whilst their enclosure received a much needed update. The three lionesses: Rubi, Heidi and Indi are now housed alongside a recreated Indian village, showing just how close the Asiatic Lions really live next to the Maldhari people in Gir National Park. 

The new Land of Lions entrance within London Zoo.

Erbie entering the Lion's den
The attention to detail throughout is amazing from weathered signs, random pots and pans, bicycles, to peeling paintwork and planting.

Welcome signs to the entrance of Gir National Park, India (London Zoo).

Sign to entrance of Land of the Lions, London Zoo

Signs to entrance of Land of the Lions, London Zoo

Painted wall mural map in the Land of the Lions
Random Indian pots and pans.
After walking past a cafe and a lorry piled high with rainbow crates, all at once we were in an Indian village - full of fruit stalls, flip-flops, brightly coloured bunting, shop fronts offering chai, spices and haircuts, rickshaws and decorated cows.

Around the corner India awaits!
Rainbow crates piled on a lorry.
Cafe - Land of the Lions, London Zoo

General Store - Land of the Lions, London Zoo
Fruit stalls
A fun idea for the children to see themselves with a lion's mane haircut - simply look into the mirror!

Barber's sign - Land of the Lions, London Zoo
See yourself - Land of the Lions, London Zoo
Monkey sign - Land of the Lions, London Zoo
Market trolley, Land of the Lions, London Zoo
Flip-flops and sandals - Land of the Lions, London Zoo
A holy cow - Land of the Lions, London Zoo
Painted rickshaw - Land of the Lions, London Zoo

There is plenty to look at and do as you walk through, first up the train station where we saw a pair of mongoose in the ticket office!

Touch the nose of the bronze lion to bring you luck.

Lucky bronze lionhead outside the station
Touching the lion's nose can bring you great fortune!
Amazing planting
There are even train tracks and a signal at the station.

Railway tracks, and a signal
Punch a hole in your ticket on the old desk in the station, surrounded by posters, timetables, a map and a screen displaying informative videos about the lions and their habitat.

An old desk in the station with ticket punch.
Ticket punch and old an wire tray
I was really impressed with the design of the areas around the enclosure, the attention to detail was amazing – things like an old wire tray on the desk in the train station (see above); and wonderful retro posters like the travel one below. 

Some of the signs had beautifully hand drawn lettering and pictures.

A series of raised walkways surround the area from which one can see into the lions’ enclosure safely.

Stairs to a raised viewing gallery and walkway
The lion enclosure
There was also a ‘bicycle shop’ where you can try reach the speed of an Asiatic lion by pedalling.

Land of the Lions, London Zoo
The boys attempt to cycle at the speed of lion and see how high they can pump the air gauge!

Land of the Lions, London Zoo
Next take a pilgrimage through the steep sided rocks to the Ginar hills, (i.e through one of the viewing walkways) look up for lion’s tails on the way to the Langur Fort.

Land of the Lions, London Zoo

We spotted the lions, all curled up together in the rain.

Two lionesses asleep in the rain
And on to the Langur Fort.
London Zoo - Land of the Lions

A jeep with a large lion crate beside.

Stay the night! 
To complete a fully immersive experience one can book a Sunset Safari (from May onwards) and actually stay over night in your own private cabin or Gir Lodge for a family friendly evening and dinner within roaring distance of the lions.

Spend the night in The Land of the Lions

ZSL London Zoo (website here)
Regent’s Park

General price for the whole zoo, including the Land of Lions
Adult: £24.25
Child: £17.60

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