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Time: 16:21 23 May 2011

London Zoo to expand Asiatic lion pride

28th January 2014

As one of the top establishments of its kind in the world, London Zoo rightly has a reputation as a global leader when it comes to wildlife conservation - not to mention providing an educational and entertaining day out for visitors to the capital.

In keeping with this reputation, the zoo has announced plans to step up its efforts to protect the Asiatic lion, which was once extremely populous throughout Asia but over the past few centuries has almost become extinct.

Working closely with the Gir Forest National Park in the Indian state of Gujarat, the zoo will be helping to safeguard the future of the species, which has reduced in number to just a few hundred as a result of widespread hunting over the past two to three centuries.

On top of this, London Zoo is planning to construct a brand new enclosure for its own pride of Asiatic lions, which could see the size of the group increase from five to as many as 12.

This news has thrilled conservationists, with zoological director David Field explaining that: "During the Raj in India, huge lion hunts were responsible for the widespread decimation of lions in India... I think it's about time we gave something back."

Indeed, the devastation of Asiatic lion populations has become so extreme that many Europeans do not even know that the species exists, and think that all lions come from Africa.

However, the Asiatic lion was once found from the Middle East to the Far East, which is why efforts are now being stepped up to bring the animal - which is slightly smaller than its African relative - back from the brink of extinction.

London Zoo is located in Regent's Park in the heart of the city, and is home to a huge number of fascinating creatures, so it's always a great place to go for an interesting day out.

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