Everyone needs a mate, and that rings true for one male lion dubbed “Britain's loneliest”.
Having lost his second companion in two years, Bailey has been a star attraction at Colchester Zoo for 12 years.
He came to the UK with cousins Naja and Malika, and the 18-year-old Naja was sadly put down last week.
And it happened 18 months after Malika suffered tragically the same fate, too.
But now, staff at Colchester Zoo are keeping a close eye on lonely Bailey – and are even considering relocating him to another zoo with a pride of lionesses.
A spokesman for the Zoo said this week: “Bailey’s health and welfare is our top priority and, whilst our Animal Care Team continues to monitor him daily, discussions have been put in place by the Animal Care Management Team regarding Bailey’s future at Colchester Zoo.
“The team are currently exploring bringing in a female lioness for Bailey, but this option is reliant on a lioness being available at one of our neighbouring zoos.
“However, given Bailey’s age, introducing a female at this stage in his life could prove too stressful.
“The team are also exploring relocating Bailey to another zoo with a pride of lionesses.
“This would be dependent on another organisation having the space to house Bailey and the move alone could prove too much.
“Bailey has become a big part of the Colchester Zoo family and parting with him feels almost impossible and irresponsible.
“Our Animal Care Team will continue to monitor Bailey’s mental and physical welfare over the next few weeks.
"It’s our responsibility to ensure that Bailey’s welfare is at the forefront of any decision made, which may include letting him live out the rest of his life here at the zoo by himself.”
The staff also paid tribute to Naja, calling her “one of a kind”.
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