Summer, autumn, winter or spring – male lions sleep between 16-20 hours a day, and elderly lion brothers Zulu and Malik are no exception!

If visiting in the day, you’ll likely spot them catnapping, while at our Saturday Zoo Lates when it’s cooler, chances are they’ll be out taking in the summer evening action of animals and people across our Africa Safari Track. These big cats are masters at conserving energy, which is why they mostly hunt between dusk and dawn (though it’s females that do the lion’s share). Impressively, as they obtain moisture from the prey they kill, they can also go without water for many days.

Just six weeks apart in age, and now almost 17 years old (life expectancy for lions in zoos), as well as sleeping in the heat of the day Zulu and Malik are just generally becoming slower as their advancing years catch up with them.

Like your own pet cats, joint issues and chronic disease like arthritis are common in big cats like lions. Our Carnivore keepers and vets are noticing Zulu, who had a health check-up last October, has become noticeably stiffer in his movements and more reluctant to bend his joints.

Instinctively, for their own survival, animals are extremely adept at masking any signs of injury or age-related illness,” says Carnivore team leader Lauren. “While nothing showed up in the x-rays we did at his check-up, which can be the case with some degenerative joint issues, due to the physical changes we’ve seen, we’ve had Zulu on anti-inflammatory/pain relief medication and are continuing to monitor both him and Malik closely.”