Newly arrived lion kills lioness at Bellewaerde theme park

A new lion at Bellewaerde theme park in Ypres, West Flanders, killed a lioness on Wednesday, the park confirmed on Thursday. The lion, called Nestor, had recently arrived in the enclosure with two lionesses.

The incident happened between 14.00 and 15.00 on Wednesday. "They got into a fight and he bit her on the throat," Bellewaerde Park spokesperson Filip Van Dorpe told VRT NWS. "A distress call, which Nestor knows means he should return to his enclosure, was of no help. It is very unfortunate and unforeseen. They are still wild animals. This is what happens in nature. We regret this deeply, and everyone at Bellewaerde Park is very affected."

"We regret this deeply, and everyone at Bellewaerde Park is very affected"

The lion had just been moved from Antwerp to Bellewaerde Park. He arrived there with lionesses Maya and Numa, two sisters from a zoo in the Czech Republic. The intention was for the animals to breed there.

The lions were given time to gradually get to know each other, first indoors and then taking turns to spend time in the outdoor enclosure. These encounters went well each, so keepers decided to let them out together occasionally.

On Wednesday afternoon, Maya went out with Nestor. They appeared to be comfortable with one another, but the lion suddenly bit the lioness on the neck. Keepers tried unsuccessfully to intervene.

There will be a waiting period before Nestor is introduced to the other lioness. He will remain in the enclosure and the breeding programme is still expected to continue.



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