A NEW predator exhibit at an Australian zoo will let visitors get up close and personal with 12 African lions.
Monarto Zoo’s Predator Experience enclosure in South Australia will allow visitors to enter a tunnel and emerge in a pen in the heart of a lion’s den.
The project was inspired by Great White Shark diving cages that allow people to come within inches of some of the world’s most dangerous carnivores.
Construction of the tunnel into the conservation park’s 10-hectare lion habitat will begin next month and the display is scheduled to open later this year.
Zoos SA CEO Elaine Bensted said the Predator Experience would be a “hair-raising” encounter with African royalty.
“Monarto Zoo is home to one of the largest lion prides in the country, and this experience will allow our visitors to get closer than ever before,” she said.
The project has received about AU$1.4m in funding from The South Australian Government, Zoos SA and the Commonwealth Tourism Demand Driver Infrastructure program.
Bensted said she expects the lion cage will attract about 3,000 new visitors to Monarto Zoo each year.
Monarto Zoo is the largest the largest open-range zoo in the world spanning more than 1500 hectares and attracts over than 130,000 visitors a year.
It is one of two main zoos in South Australia, partnering the Adelaide Zoo in the state’s capital, which is home to more than 2,500 animals and 250 species including local Australian wildlife.
The Predator Experience is expected to bring in an estimated $1million in the region and will run adjacent to the zoo’s “Wild Africa” experience, which also allows visitors to stay overnight.
The Predator Experience Exhibit will begin construction in April and will be made open to the public later this year.