Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip open lion enclosure at London Zoo

Royal couple Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were on site at the ZSL London Zoo on Thursday morning. The royal visitors helped commemorate the opening of the new Land of the Lions enclosure, which will initially house four endangered Asiatic lions.

Wearing a pale blue coat and matching hat, the monarch appeared in good spirits as she was taken on a tour of the zoo by a group of staff with her husband by her side. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were among the first people to get a glimpse at the lions in their new enclosure, which has cost $7.5million to develop.


 alt=The Queen and Prince Philip visited ZSL London Zoo on Thursday Photo: Getty Images

They spoke with members of the exhibit delivery team, zoo keepers and members of a conservation group before unveiling a plaque to commemorate the official opening of the exhibit.

The new enclosure covers almost 27,000 sq ft and has been inspired by Gujarat in India, with rickshaws, bicycles, sacks of spices and a life-size truck dotted both inside and out of the lion's space. The Land of the Lions enclosure will officially open to the public on March 25, and is promised to play a "vital role" in the European breeding program for the endangered species, of which only 500 remain in the wild.

 alt=The royal couple opened the new Land of the Lions enclosure Photo: Getty Images

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh previously opened the lion terraces at ZSL London Zoo in 1976. Her Majesty also visited the zoo as a child in 1938, along with her sister Princess Margaret.

It is the second public appearance the royal couple have made in London this week, having attended the annual Commonwealth service at Westminster Abbey on Monday afternoon. The Queen and Prince Philip were joined by other members of the royal family, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Andrew and Prince Harry, who is going on a tour of Nepal at the weekend.

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