London

In pictures: The Queen opens London Zoo's new lion enclosure

Queen Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The only home to Asiatic lions in the wild is in the Gir forest in Gujarat, India, which counted 543 last year

The Queen has opened a new enclosure at London Zoo for endangered lions.

Along with the Duke of Edinburgh, the 89-year-old monarch opened the Land of Lions exhibit, where four endangered Asiatic lions, also known as Indian or Persian Lions, will be kept.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Queen was presented with a photograph of her visit to the zoo 40 years ago in 1976 when she opened the New Lion Terraces at almost the same spot

They attended a speech next to the enclosure by president of the zoo Sir John Beddington and director Ralph Armond.

Two lionesses became engaged in a stand-off during the speech, interrupting it with several loud roars.

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Image caption Prince Philip was also given The Maneless Lion Of Gujarat, a publication
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Asian lions once lived across the Middle East and India

But Maddy Taylor at the Captive Animals' Protection Society said the new enclosure was a "misuse of funds in the name of conservation".

She said: "Keeping animals in cages far away from their natural habitats does very little to help those species in the wild."

People working in the wild with communities, habitats and threats from poaching would be "appalled" the zoo spending £5.2m on the new lion enclosure, she added.

Ms Taylor added: "We want to see an end to animals in zoos, where animals often suffer both mentally and physically.

"Animals should be left in the wild, where they belong."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh met the anatomist Lord Zuckerman, financier Charles Clore, Vivien Duffield, his daughter and Arabella Duffield, his granddaughter, on her first visit to the zoo
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Prince Philip was given a reproduction of a painting by Edward Lear circa 1835 of an Asian lion
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In the wild, Asian lions are heavily protected
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The enclosure is modelled on the village Sasan Gir in Gujarat
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The enclosure is five times the size of the previous one

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