World Lion Day 2023

World Lion Day aims to raise awareness about the plight of Lions and help gather support for their conservation.

African Lions are the most sociable of all big cats as they live in prides which usually consist of related females and their cubs. Dominant males, with their flowing manes, are often on their own in the wild and will only join a pride for breeding. African Lions are highly adaptable big cats and can be found in a wide variety of habitats, including semi-arid desert areas and even very dry habitats such as the Kalahari desert. However, they do prefer open woodland and thick bush as well as scrub and grasslands, to help them stalk their prey.

Despite being recognised globally as a powerful and majestic species, African Lion numbers have plummeted by over 40% in the last three years due to loss of habitat and conflict with people. African Lions are currently classed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species with around 23,000 left in the wild. In the past, African Lions used to be spread across most of the continent but are now only found in sub-Saharan Africa.

Bailey the African Lion

Here at Colchester Zoo, we have one male African Lion named Bailey. At 16 years old, Bailey has stolen the hearts of keepers and visitors alike. Bailey arrived at Colchester Zoo in 2010 with his two cousins, Malika and Naja. Over the past 13 years, Bailey has become a big part of the Colchester Zoo family and can often be heard vocalising every morning and night as a form of marking his territory.

You may notice on your next Zoo visit that Bailey lives on his own at our Lion Rock habitat. Since the sad loss of our last Lioness, Naja, back in March 2022, Bailey has been adjusting to life without his companions. Every option was explored including transferring him to another pride or bringing in a Lioness but these options felt almost impossible and irresponsible. With Bailey’s health being our top priority, the decision was made to keep Bailey at Colchester Zoo on his own, where he can frequently engage with his keepers.

The Animal Care Team ensure that Bailey has lots of stimulation throughout the day including enrichment with his favourite scents; Elephant faeces, perfumes and Christmas trees. He is also frequently given new items to explore, which he enjoys interacting with for quite some time!

Be sure to see Bailey on your next visit at Lion Rock!

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