Newquay’s lions on the move: FAQ

As regular visitors will know, we have been planning the move of our three African lions from Newquay to our sister zoo in Paignton Zoo for some time. The move has now happened and we know there may be some readers who have questions about why the move was necessary. We’ve given answers to some of the most frequently asked ones below.

Why isn’t the lion enclosure at Newquay suitable anymore?

Newquay Zoo has changed substantially over the years, and as a science-led charitable zoo we are constantly reviewing the ways in which we look after our animals. We want to give our animals homes that provide the best possible condition, and the reality is that our lions’ new home at Paignton Zoo is many times larger than the one here and will provide them with substantially more room.

Why not build a new one here?

We’ve looked at numerous options and locations and the end result is that a new lion enclosure at Newquay would never be as spacious as the one we can provide for them at Paignton. Our top priority is to do all we can to give our animals the best environment for the future, and this can best be provided at Paignton.

But lions are the most popular attraction!

We completely understand concerns about the impact on our visitors and the local community – lions have lived at Newquay zoo since it opened. We also know that people support our decision to give them more space, and hope that their many fans come to Paignton to see them in their new home soon. Newquay and Paignton Zoos are both looked after by the same charitable trust (Wild Planet Trust), so we know they will continue to receive the same excellent care that they’re used to!

What will replace them?

The lions have always been a big part of a visit to Newquay Zoo.  Our long-term plans for the zoo will be shared as soon as they are confirmed, but in the meantime we have a fantastic opportunity to create an improved new home for our much-loved lynx, Kicsi. We are finalising plans for joining Kicsi’s existing home to the lion enclosure and plan to create a superb new home for her, as well as bringing in a new mate to share this much larger space.

When will this ‘something new’ happen?

The last few years have been very challenging for many local businesses, and the zoo has been no exception. The Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit and the cost of living crisis have all had an impact on how we operate and mean that we need to plan carefully for our future. The past year has also seen the ever-growing threat of avian influenza (bird flu), and our development priorities have had to change in order to keep our birds safe. All of this means that giving a definite time frame for change is very difficult. We hope to begin work on our new lynx development very soon, and in the meantime we will be housing a pair of West African crowned cranes in the enclosure. These beautiful and vulnerable birds are part of an important European breeding programme and we look forward to visitors being able to see them very soon.

What does this mean for the future?

Newquay is a great zoo. It’s staffed by fantastic people who do a phenomenal job year-round to create a really special place that does great things for conservation. We want it to be even better, and we hope you’ll share our view that this is a really momentous, and positive, step forward. The decision to stop keeping lions at Newquay will be a defining moment in our history, and we believe it will mark the start of something transformational that allows us to become something more than we already are. We’ve made this decision because we want our lions and lynx to have the best life possible, and also to ensure that the future for Newquay Zoo is as bright as possible. We understand that many people may be saddened by their departure, but seizing the opportunity to improve the lives of our popular cats is a decision which we can all be proud of.