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NEW: Kingdom of the Barbary Lion opens at Belfast Zoo!

The new kingdom of the barbery lion at Belfast zoo

The ‘Kingdom of the Barbary Lion’ has been officially opened this week by the Lord Mayor of Belfast at Belfast Zoo.

Studio Willms was commissioned to design the new Barbary lion enclosure. The goal was to design a new, state of the art, sustainable enclosure with respect of animal welfare, zoo keepers safety and comfort and – last but not least – add visitors experience.

Barbary lions were once native to North Africa, including the Atlas Mountains but are now extinct in the wild.

Lord Mayor of Belfast ryan Murphy cuts the ribbon to open the new facility at Belfast zoo

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Ryan Murphy, said:

“I am delighted to officially open the new Kingdom of the Barbary Lion attraction – another fab reason for visitors to put Belfast Zoo on their summer to do list!

“This new habitat is a state-of-the-art facility which has been closely tailored to the needs of the zoo’s lion pride, with trees, ridges, rocks, caves, a viewing platform and climbing poles. This significant investment demonstrates our commitment to improving the zoo’s facilities to provide the highest standards of animal care and deliver a fantastic experience for visitors from Belfast and beyond.”

Belfast Zoo supports several conservation projects, and recently added to their list. The organisation is devoted exclusively to the conservation of the world’s 40 species of wild cats, including lions, and the vast ecosystems they inhabit.

The new kingdom of the barbery lion at Belfast zoo

Alyn Cairns, Zoo Manager, said:

“We are delighted to provide this fantastic new home for our Barbary lions. Most people think of lion habitat as savannah, but in fact, lions have lived in a variety of habitats. The new habitat includes 16 from ground glass viewing windows, the largest lion glass viewers in Europe, giving the lions a view of their whole kingdom along with providing visitors with an up-close lion encounter! It’s also an excellent location for fantastic panoramic views of Belfast and the Lough.”

Belfast Zoo is home to three barbary lions, Qays, the male of the pride, and his two female companions Thheiba and Fidda. The pride travelled from their birthplace at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park and arrived at Belfast Zoo in August 2005.

Barberry Lion in new kingdom at Belfast Zoo

Zoo Manager, Alyn, explained:

“The barbary lion is an iconic species facing extreme threat. Barbary lions are extinct in the wild, and there are fewer than 92 Barbary lions left in zoos across Europe. Over the years, as part of a global and collaborative breeding programme, our pride has produced over 8 cubs, a great achievement to ensure the future survival of this magnificent species.”

Belfast Zoo is home to 110 different species, many of which are facing increasing risk of extinction in their natural habitat.

Alyn continued:

“We constantly work towards improving our facilities for our animals, and this new initiative is evidence of that. This is the first in a variety of proposed projects which we hope will come to fruition in the future. We are committed to maintaining the highest standard in animal welfare and to improving our visitor experience.

The team gathered for the opening of the new kingdom at Belfast Zoo.

"It took a team effort to make our vision of the new lion habitat a reality. I am very proud of what we have achieved, and I want to congratulate and thank all involved.”

Belfast Zoo is open every day, 10am – 6pm with last admission at 4.30pm. Admission can be booked online at



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