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Lions get in your face at Detroit Zoo

The Detroit Zoo unveiled one gem of an exhibit … one that brings the lions so close it feels like you could touch them. If it’s your lucky day you can almost get nose to nose with Bikira, Katie, Percival, Larson, Emily and Erin.

Not to worry. These magnificent creatures are behind a special reinforced tempered glass that can handle getting “hit by a truck at 40 miles an hour” and not break, said Zoological Society Executive Director Ron Kagan. There are also special warming rocks that will bring the big cats closer to the glass in colder months.

“The ability to get closer to the lions will be exciting for our guests, and the increased proximity to visitors might prove to be a source of curiosity for the lions,” said Kagan.

Creating new, innovative exhibits is nothing new to the Detroit Zoo. That’s been going on since its inception in 1928. Back then, the idea was to create moats that prevented the animals from getting too close to humans. Now the lion’s moat has been filled in and the barrier is those 60 panes of reinforced special tempered glass, which creates a very safe and humane way to see the kings and queens of the jungle any time of year.

The 7,500-square-foot exhibit cost $1 million and gives the lions double the space they had before. The residents, mostly rescues from a junkyard and a crack house, seemed to enjoy the extra room to stretch their paws. Or at least that’s how I interpreted the roars.

Note: We’ve included a quick panorama of the enclosure below. Can you find the lions? There’s two that are out when the picture was taken.

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