• Buxton Bear

A Royal Seal of Approval - Lions Official Opening


John Gothard, Project Manager and Keith Pagan MD were delighted to attend the official Royal Opening and to personally meet and greet HM The Queen and HRH Duke of Edinburgh on March 17th 2016.

The sun shone and showcased the new Lions in their new Home which is a £5.2m development, created to transport visitors from the heart of London to the vibrant setting of Sasan Gir in Gujarat, India - the last remaining stronghold of Asiatic lions – and bring visitors closer than ever to the big cats.

This uniquely themed interactive project followed on from successful completion of the Penguin Exhibit, New Cafeteria and Shop by Buxton.


The day and the project was summed up beautifully by John Gothard who wrote to the ZSL team following the successful opening. He said

“Just a big thank you for the being invited to the royal opening of the Land of the Lions yesterday. You staged a magnificent day with not only getting the lions to behave but also the weather. A truly proud moment for myself to be in the line-up for which I would like to thank you personally, and to hear the great feedback from all the guests yesterday proves that all your and our hard work was worth it. The exhibit looked great and hats off to your interpretation team and also your project team for that.

I truly enjoyed the year working on the project with the ZSL team and can’t wait to be back to construct another project in the future. Many thanks for the memorable experience”

The Royals toured the Zoo’s new Land of the Lions and spent time talking to staff about the incredible interactive experiences the exhibit will have on offer to visitors.

Lionesses Indi, Rubi and Heidi even showed their respect for the Royal guests - coming to within a whisker of Her Majesty and His Royal Highness in the exhibit’s stunning 360⁰ Temple Clearing.

Director General Ralph Armond said: “We were delighted to welcome Her Majesty and His Royal Highness to ZSL London Zoo this morning to open our new Land of the Lions exhibit. Her Majesty actually opened our previous lion enclosure 40 years ago and it was an honour to have her return with HRH The Duke in the year of her 90th birthday.”

Land of the Lions, a £5.2m development, has been created to transport visitors from the heart of London to the vibrant setting of Sasan Gir in Gujarat, India - the last remaining stronghold of Asiatic lions – and bring visitors closer than ever to the big cats.

Covering an expanse of 2,500sqm (27,000sqft), visitors will enter Land of the Lions through a grand stone archway, pick up a ‘park pass’ at the Gir Tourist Information centre and explore Sasan Gir Train Station - where the odd lion might be spotted snoozing on the tracks – before being awed by the exhibit’s incredible centrepiece, a 360° Temple Clearing where the big cats will roam just metres away, separated only by fine wires.