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05th Jan 2023

Lioness killed ‘almost instantly’ by lion in front of visitors at Longleat Safari Park

Charlie Herbert

Longleat lioness death

Keepers arrived at the scene but were unable to save the lioness

A lioness was killed “almost instantly” after being attacked by another lion at Longleat Safari Park in front of visitors.

Guests at the park were moved to a different area following the incident at Longleat Safari Park on New Year’s Day.

The Wiltshire zoo has confirmed the incident. A spokesman said keepers were on the scene immediately but were unable to save the animal.

Initially, it was unclear to the guests at the park what had happened and they were diverted away from the lion enclosure due to an unknown major incident, Wiltshire Live reports.

One visitor wrote on social media that they were held up in the enclosure. They told how they could see the lioness not moving on the floor after suffering injuries.

A Longleat spokesman said: “This weekend (1st January 2023) saw one of the lionesses at Longleat sadly killed by another lion. This kind of incident is very rare but can naturally occur amongst apex predators.

“It happened incredibly quickly, with the lioness dying almost instantly. Our professional keepers were immediately on the scene, however the timescales involved meant there was no possibility of intervention. There was no risk to guests.”

Following the sad incident,  wildlife conservation charity The Born Free Foundation reiterated calls for animals such as lions to not be kept in captivity.

Chris Lewis, Born Free’s Captivity Research Officer said: “These incidents highlight one of the many reasons why these species should not be kept in captivity.

“These animals are denied the opportunity to choose their own mates, and lack the ability to escape aggressive interactions. Combine this with the unnatural social behaviour that is so common among wild animals that are confined in captive environments, and you have a recipe for these kinds of tragic consequences.

“Zoos cannot claim that their facilities are the safest place for these animals, while at the same time trying to justify the occurrence of such incidents as ‘natural’.”

In a statement, the charity said that the captive breeding programme for lions, along with the majority of zoo breeding programmes “simply produces additional individuals for the zoo population”.

It added: “Individual big cats that are born in captivity are never likely to be reintroduced into the wild, given their genetic, social and behavioural unsuitability. There is no good conservation justification for keeping and breeding lions in zoos.”

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