Date: 05 Aug 2009
Lily the lion, Belfast’s most famous big cat, has left to begin her new life in Hodonin Zoo, Czech Republic.
Lily rose to stardom in 2007 when she was rejected by her mother and hand reared by Zoo Keeper, Linda Frew in her family home. Lily will be gradually introduced to Simon, a 4 year-old Barbary lion. It is hoped they will mate and have a family of their own.
Lily’s journey to Eastern Europe will take 2 days. Zoo keepers from Hodonin arrived in Belfast on Tuesday evening after a long 2 day journey from the Czech Republic.
Lily will travel in a specially adapted transport box, and along with two Hodonin zoo keepers, will travel by land, boat to Cairnryan and the Channel Tunnel until they reach mainland Europe for the final 10 hour drive to the Czech Republic.
Zoo Vet Michael Griffith was pleased with her transfer, saying "she required no sedation and walked calmly into her box. Animal transfers by road are less stressful compared to the noise and complications of air travel". Lily will arrive in Hodonin Zoo on Friday
Linda Frew, adopted mother of Lily, said “The time has come for her departure and my job is done. I feel proud that I have helped Lily for a short part of her life. I hope she will enjoy her new surroundings and settle with Simon and the other lions at Hodonin Zoo.
Lily has been viewed right across the world. The UTV programme ‘Living with Lily’ and The Discovery Channel programme, Baby Planet, broadcast Lily from the UK and Ireland to Europe, Australia, Asia and America.
Lily will leave behind parents, Fidda and Qays and brother Charlie. Other brother Boris departed for Olomouc Zoo, Czech Republic on 15 July. Buzetta, Hodonin Zoo’s other female lion and Simon’s sister will meet Boris in Olomouc Zoo as part of the lion dating game. It is hoped the two unrelated lions will breed as Lily may do with Simon.
With Lily and Boris’s departure Belfast Zoo cares for 4 Barbary lions.