Our lions are now living in a brand new enclosure in the middle of the zoo. Our new restaurant, the ‘Poort van Azie’ is also located in this part of the zoo, which lies on the boarder of the Asia and Africa areas. The new outdoor exhibit for the lions is about six times as big as their former enclosure and provides them a rolling grassland area. The enclosure is furnished with about 10,000 tufts of grass, together with rocky boulders and a pool. The lions have the choice of a variety of sunny or shady spots.
The indoor area is also large offering the lions the opportunity to escape the winter chill. At the moment there are three lions in the zoo. Instead of the more usual African lion, Rotterdam Zoo has chosen to hold the much rarer Asiatic subspecies. Currently there are only 300 of these lions surviving in the wild in the Gir forest of North-west India.
Various sphere creating elements such as video mapping (where the image projected on the rear wall of the indoor enclosure varies with the time of day or night) have been employed to enhance the visitor experience. Visitors can also take part in their own safari with Jack, a lifelike African chauffeur, in a specially adapted safari truck. While in the field station it is possible for them to observe the lions like real lion researchers.
Both the indoor lion exhibit and the Poort of Azie restaurant are listed monuments which have been renovated and adapted for modern use. This was made financially possible, amongst others, thanks to a a gift from the Gemeente Rotterdam on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the zoo in 2007. The two monumental buildings, mirror images of each other, were originally designed as a giraffe house and a tea room. They were connected to each other with a terrace and colonnade. Together the two buildings and terrace were part of the overall, original design by the architect Sybold van Ravesteyn from the 1940s.