Blackpool Zoo has opened the doors to its fantastic, purpose-built new big cat facility and welcomed some old, and new, feline faces.

Big Cat Habitat, which cost £1.5million, fully opens to the public on Friday 26th May.

It combines increased indoor space and a larger off-show management area with extended external paddocks and improved keeper facilities, which will enable the best possible care for the magnificent animals.

Each side of the house has a large indoor area including heated mock rocks and extended viewing windows.

Heading outside there are more mock rocks, created and carved from scratch by a masonry specialist, along with multi-level, multi-functional log platforms that provide lots of options for exercising and enrichment, as well as plenty of sunbathing and relaxation spots.

The running water features, a pond and extensive planting add finishing touches to the exhibit.

A new CCTV surveillance system will also allow keepers and conservationists to monitor and research the behaviour and lifestyles of the cats as they go about their daily activities.
Khari, the African lion, who was born at Blackpool Zoo in 2015, will head up a new pride with three females, who recently arrived from West Midland Safari Park.

Emma and Narla, who are 18 and Hira, who will be four in September, all lived in a large, diverse pride and have close bonds with each other.

They will form a breeding group as part of the European Endangered Species Programmes (EEP), with the females all helping each other to raise any cubs.

Alyona, the Amur tiger, travelled to Blackpool from her birthplace Safaripark Beekse Bergen in the Netherlands in 2012 as a mate for the late Zambar, who arrived in 2010 from Marwell Wildlife Park.

As Alyona is no longer part of the European Endangered Species Programmes (EEP), she is being joined by a male to form a companion pair in the summer.

The new facility will also mean visitors can enjoy a better experience when they come to see the big cats. New, wider windows give sweeping views of the houses
and paddocks and the exterior walls display themed, informational three-dimensional exhibits and artwork to teach people about the species and the threats they face in the wild.

In addition, regular talks and feed sessions will allow the education, conservation and research team at Blackpool to teach and inspire visitors about the conservation efforts for lions and tigers at the zoo and across the world.

Darren Webster, Zoo Director at Blackpool Zoo, is delighted to launch Big Cat Habitat. He said: “We continually strive to improve our facilities for our animals and this significant investment is the latest in a long line of projects that demonstrate our commitment to excellence.

“Both Amur tigers and African lions face many threats in the wild and we work hand in hand with in-situ conservation projects and charities across the world to raise money and awareness to help these magnificent species.

“The Big Cat Habitat facility has been designed to encourage natural behaviour and the animals will have the choice as to where they are and what they do in their respective exhibits.

“This entire project has been overseen by our excellent keepers as well as a grounds and maintenance team and I want to congratulate them on a job well done.

“I am absolutely delighted to welcome Khari and Alyona home and introduce Hira, Narla and Emma to Blackpool. We’re looking forward to a male tiger joining Alyona later in the summer.”

Blackpool Zoo has been home to big cats since it opened its doors in 1972.




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