ZSL London Zoo | Community engagement and sponsorships | Who we are | Liontrust Asset Management PLC
Liontrust sponsors the lions at ZSL London Zoo

ZSL London Zoo

Championing Asiatic Lions

We are proud to be supporting ZSL’s Asiatic lion campaign, dedicated to protecting the last remaining lions that reside as a single population in Western India’s Gir National Forest. With Liontrust’s support, ZSL is actively working with local partners in a variety of ways to ensure the survival of this population of just over 500 Asiatic lions:

  • Train zoo keepers and veterinarians at Sakkarbaug Zoo in lion care and welfare
  • Improve training of local staff so they can safely transport lions and other dangerous animals away from populated areas
  • Upgrade infrastructure to help care for the lions’ health and wellbeing
  • Establish exhibits and education programmes for local communities and visitors to learn about lion conservation
  • Train and equipping rapid response teams to rescue and rehabilitate injured lions

In addition to their work in the field, ZSL opened a brand new conservation breeding centre, Land of the Lions, on 17 March 2016 at ZSL London Zoo. The exhibit was opened by HM The Queen, and its purpose is to ensure a ‘safety net’ against extinction as well as protecting the genetic viability of species.

Asiatic lions

Today’s Asiatic lions are descended from lions that left North Africa around 21,000 years ago, eventually reaching as far afield as southern Europe, south-west Asia and eastern India. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the subspecies was hunted to the brink of extinction, remaining only in the region of India’s Gir Forest.

While the Asiatic lion is very closely related to its African cousin, there are a few distinguishing characteristics. The main difference is the fold of skin along the stomach of the Asiatic lion. The Asiatic lion also tends to be around 10% to 20% smaller than the African one, with a sparser mane, but bigger tufts of hair on its tail and elbows. 

Lions are the most social cat, although Asiatic lions tend to live in smaller groups than a typical African pride of five or more animals. An Asiatic pride tends to be made up of two or three adult lionesses, plus any cubs, with males only associating with females while mating or sharing a large kill. 

Asiatic males are fairly solitary but will sometimes team up with each other to defend territory. Females usually give birth to around two to four cubs, which may suckle from any lactating female in the group before starting to hunt with the pride when they are around a year old.

Hunting by dawn and dusk and sleeping by day, these powerful carnivores are perfectly evolved to stalk, chase and overpower prey, often working as a team to take down prey that can be much larger than themselves.
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