house here at the Isle of Wight Zoo.
Complete with a heated sleeping area, the new accommodation also features specially reinforced full-height windows which allow the public incredibly privileged, close-up views when Kumba and Vigo are not enjoying their much larger enclosure.
Animal Manager Marc Fox said: “After such an unfortunate start to their lives, we are so pleased to be able to provide Kumba and Vigo with really modern, comfortable and engaging new accommodation. They will now have a stimulating environment which caters for all of their needs, whilst offering visitors to the zoo an awe-inspiring immersive experience when they come nose to nose with these two gentle giants. The new house offers fantastic views of the brothers when they are relaxing in their indoor quarters or taking small chunks of meat from their new on-show feeding hatches.
“Outside they will be able to spend time exploring the new landscaping, or sitting up on their raised platforms to survey their new territory. Keepers will offer a variety of different enrichment methods to help keep them stimulated, ensuring that for the rest of their lives they have a really good quality of life.”
Vigo and Kumba were brought to the zoo last year after being saved from a Spanish circus where they spent most of their lives cooped up together in a lorry trailer. When they were young they were neutered, beaten and their claws were cruelly and painfully removed.
Since the boys’ arrival, The Wildheart Trust – which operates the zoo – has been working on fundraising and sponsorship to develop the new supersized accommodation specially to accommodate the lions’ extraordinary size because although the early neutering prevented the growth of manes it did not limit the pair’s physical size.
Now the zoo is encouraging people to come and welcome the lions into their new house as every visit raises vital funds for their ongoing care. It costs approximately £12,000 to look after each lion for one year.
Construction company Willmott Dixon generously donated their skills and labour for the design and build of the new house which has significantly reduced the cost of the project for the zoo and, in the run-up to Christmas, the zoo appealed for people to make a donation towards much needed new home equipment as a socially conscious gift for a loved one or friend.
Speaking about their generous support and hard work to construct the new lion house, Willmott Dixon said: “Willmott Dixon were absolutely thrilled to be involved in such a special project. Our people provided a substantial amount of their own time and skills to the project. Their passion along with the valued support of our Supply Chain Partners made this project possible. The values held by the Isle of Wight Zoo are closely aligned with our own and it was a privilege to play a role in providing a new home for Kumba and Vigo.”