Artis Zoo opens new enclosure for lions; 10 times bigger than old one
Artis Zoo in Amsterdam is opening its new enclosure for lions this week. The new enclosure is much larger and offers a more natural and enriching environment for the lions, the zoo said. Artis visitors can visit the enclosure from Thursday.
The new habitat was designed by landscape architect Thijs de Zeeuw and architect Alexander Lefebvre, working with Artis’s animal and plant manager, Tjerk ter Meulen, and Artis team specialists, inspired by the African savannah in different seasons.
“The indoor and outdoor habitat is ten times larger in area than the old enclosure,” Ter Meulen said. “But even more important is the design with which we stimulate and enrich the animal's natural behavior. The basis of good animal welfare is that the animal has as much choice as possible about whether or not to do something.”
And so, offering choices was the main focus of the new enclosure. “I’m proud of that. Every square meter is optimally used. The lions themselves look for their favorite places and mark out their territory,” Ter Meulen said. “The lions are physically challenged more by climbing structures like the tree trunk in the middle of the enclosure, the path to the top, and other trees to climb. Lions sleep most of the day, so the enclosure has several terraces. Choices in visible or sheltered, sun or shade, wind or lee, sand or grass, high or low, together or apart. The animals create their own favorite places.”
Visitors are challenged to look for the lions and can encounter them from various viewpoints. The enclosure is also surrounded by information about the iconic animal’s key position in its ecosystem, its vulnerable situation in the wild, and its symbolic status as a centuries-old source of stories in many different cultures.