To the lions

In Antwerp lions, Meerkats and Yellow Mongooses will be sharing an enclosure in the future. With this the Antwerp Zoo wants to stimulate natural behaviour. According to planning, the enclosure will be ready by summer 2011.
The alteration is part of a bigger plan in which the enclosures of the large cats will be adjusted to modern ideas on animal welfare.

An enclosure in which camels and mules used to stay will now be converted into a piece of Kalahari desert in which lions, Meerkats and Yellow Mongooses will live together. The conversion fits in well with the development of a breeding programme for the African lion. This programme was not set up yet (while there was one for the Asian lion), but will be started by the EAZA. The Antwerp Zoo will play an important role in this programme.

The design of the new enclosure is unique. No one succeeded before in having these animals live together successfully, in a balanced manner. The Antwerp Zoo put good thought into the design. Every species will have its own private area in the enclosure where the other species cannot come, in addition to an area that is shared by all three species. Also in this shared part of the enclosure sufficient hiding places will be created for the Meerkats. The idea behind this set-up is that being watchful of dangers is part of natural behaviour, just as searching for food is. The zoo will of course make sure that the lions will not fall short of food and will not make them dependent for food on the Mongooses and Meerkats.

Meerkats and Yellow Mongooses are by the way also predators. In the wild they eat poisonous snakes and scorpions.