Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Big Cat Diary April 2016

Julie Ward Centre blog
Written by Glen Vena, Big Cat Manager
April 2016

Dear friends,

I trust all is well.   All is well with us this side, and our cats look stunning.  Following is an update on how they are getting on.

Brutus, rescued from a French circus, and Marina, rescued as a cub from Romania. Both arrived Shamwari April 2008.

Here is a picture of Brutus and Marina sleeping.  This was taken from our guests’ viewing deck, with my mobile phone camera, so not that good but lovely to see them like this.   So in love as always!

They look so good together. In general they are well and Johan our vet will be darting Brutus to look at an in-grown claw.  

Triplets: Sami, Alan and Nimira, found motherless in Sudan.  Arrived Shamwari July 2001.

I managed to get this pic of the boys together, Sami in front and Alam to the right. They look good and Martin reports that he saw the boy chasing after a few pigeons that were in their main camp and drinking water in their trough. They chased after them as fast as they could and Martin reports that he could see the excitement in the eyes of Sami and Alam!  Well the birds have wings and they took off and escaped. 

Jabulani and Queen, ex breeding farm lions.  Transferred from our sister reserve, Sanbona, and arrived April 2015.

They are looking good too. They spend a great deal of time in front of the viewing deck, and sleep most of the time. As I have said before, Jabu has one place near the visitor’s viewing deck where he likes to mark his territory and on warm days or after it had rained, man you can smell his urine.  On a regular basis Martin and myself go in and remove whatever droppings are there, and get fresh soil to sprinkle around the area where he sprays his urine. 


Jerry, Maggie and Sonja.  Jerry was rescued from Buhusi Zoo in Romania, and arrived Shamwari August 2007; Maggie and Sonja were rescued from a German circus and arrived Shamwari January 2015.

On 6th April, Johan was called in to look at an open wound on Jerry’s tail. Not bad but we needed to dart Jerry for this, the area needed to be cleaned and he also needed a shot of the antibiotics.   Jerry had been active, eating well, and mating with Sonja so it is not that the open wound was bothering him, but it needed to be looked at and dealt with sooner than later. All went well during this time although he will be hating Johan for a few months now. 

Johan in the process of darting Jerry.
A look at Jerry’s tail before Johan cleaned it.
After Johan had cleaned Jerry’s tail
Sonja having a yawn

Jerry looks great and very fit, otherwise.  I think the girls are keeping him on his toes. He has sleepless nights this month when Sonja has been on heat as then he has to perform his manly duties. Other than that they are all content with each other. Sonja soon will get her birth control implant which will help a lot as Jerry needs a break, and we might have less wild lions visiting our Centre as they can smell her kilometres away when she comes into season. 


Sinbad and Achee.  Sinbad rescued from Bacau Zoo in Romania and arrived Shamwari August 2007; Achee rehomed from a private home in Romania and arrived Shamwari September 2004.

Johan had to come around to deal with a few issues on Achee too.  She had what we think could be two claw marks on her back, this could have been inflicted by Sinbad during the times they trying to get close to each other or maybe an attempt to mate. Anyway Johan was called in to have a look and he decided that it was not that urgent or serious. A solution of F10 veterinary disinfectant was used and Johan used a 50ml syringe to spray it on her and then after wards use a pole syringe to inject her with long acting anti-biotics. I think she did not expect Johan with the needle and as soon as Johan injected her she jumped in the air and growled at Johan and walked off for a few seconds and then she calmed down. Job well done from Johan, I think we were all pleased he got her and there was no need to dart her. 

In this picture with Johan and Achee, there is Sinbad in the background overlooking every detail of what Johan is doing to her.  I must say the hospital camps are so useful for these procedures; without these doing something like this would be impossible so a big thank you to all who put in a hand in getting them built for us. 

Johan injecting Achee with antibiotics in the hospital camp with Sinbad watching quietly in the next hospital camp, I wonder what he was making of this. He looked very interested and not stressed at all. 

For the rest of the month, Achee has been really trying to make Sinbad happy… however although Sinbad does not run away from her, he just prefers not to be touched, if it makes sense what I’m trying to say… he is that type of guy “ give me my space!” and Achee is dying to get her little paws on him. So on the odd day we would see him with a small scratch on his nose, then we would know Achee came too close to him and that maybe he got a bit rough with her, and she retaliated.  She does not take any nonsense now, she will stop him in his tracks, then and there.

However, we have been observing them getting really close to each other and actually getting up to 30cm from each other and sleeping with their backs facing each other. Achee would roll around and show her tummy to him and would make purring sounds, well he would just look away and not react. I said we are going to let them take their time with this and thus far all seems to be going well, not at the speed we wanted, but hey, who are we to rush them! Their happiness is too important.


This is my daughter and my nephew, I thought I would sneak this one in for the month.  For them seeing the Defender and visiting our cats is a big treat.  

I took this picture while driving on the reserve, these two beautiful creatures were relaxing on the road and did not want to move a muscle, so I made way with the Defender and let them continue with what they were doing. So nice seeing them relaxed and knowing our teams on the ground are doing their very best to safeguard them for generations to come. 

Here we are helping Sidney to load equipment he was going to deliver to our local schools that Born Free support, so the Defender is very versatile and can be used in any place, that we all know by now. 

Thank you to Land Rover, keeping us mobile at all times.

Keep well 

‘til next time!



Read the latest Jean Byrd Big Cat Diary here!

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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