Footage shows a new Asiatic lioness settling in at London Zoo as part of a global breeding programme for the endangered species.  

Four-year-old Arya, who travelled to London from Paignton Zoo last week, ventured out for the first time on Thursday (April 29) - where zookeepers spotted her tail waving in amongst the leaves. 

Zookeeper Tara Humphreys said: “Arya is a lively young lion who is particularly fond of climbing trees, which she'll find in abundance in her new Land of the Lions home.

"Her favourite scent is peppermint, which she absolutely adores rolling in, so we’ve made sure to stock up on plenty of fresh bunches as a housewarming present.  

“At the moment, Arya is sticking to mainly night-time explorations of her new paddock, so we’ve been giving her a bit of privacy while she settles in.

"But we did spot her peeking at us from behind the bushes when she crept outside today, and she’ll venture out more and more as she grows in confidence.”  

To make way for Arya’s arrival, zookeepers waved goodbye to London-born lionesses Heidi, Indi and Rubi, who moved to Germany’s Schwerin Zoo on April 8.

The 550-mile journey was made possible by ZSL’s partners Liontrust, who kitted the big cats out with bespoke crates to ensure they travelled in style to their new home.

Big cat team leader Kate Sanders commented: “Arya is also the daughter of one of London Zoo’s former lions, Lucifer, so it feels particularly fitting that she’s here, where her father spent so many happy years.

"Many of our regular visitors will have fond memories of Lucifer and we’re sure they’ll be excited to visit his daughter over the coming months.”  

This Is Local London: Credit: Paignton Zoo Credit: Paignton Zoo

Simon Hildrey, CMO at Liontrust said: “When we first partnered with ZSL more than eight years ago, Lucifer was the male lion at ZSL London Zoo so it is wonderful to continue the ‘tail’ through Arya’s arrival.

"We are proud to have been able to support the safe journeys of all the lionesses and through this the conservation work of ZSL."

In time, Arya will be introduced to handsome male, Bhanu, to form the Zoo’s new pride – with keepers hopeful that cubs will follow.

“We have all our fingers crossed that Arya and Bhanu will be the pawfect match,” explained team leader Kate. “Hopefully love will blossom very soon.” 

Both moves were planned as part of the European breeding programme for the species - to preserve genetic diversity in the programme while protecting a back-up population of Asiatic lions in zoos.  

An Endangered species, wild Asiatic lions are today found in just one small area of Gujarat, India, where approximately 500 remain in a forest the size of London. 

ZSL London Zoo’s Land of the Lions, opened in 2016 by HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, is designed to tell the story of these majestic felines and the work being done to protect them.  

To visit Arya and her friends, tickets can be purchased here