Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Big Cat Diary April 2016

Kelvin busy changing water in the troughs in the hospital camps

Jean Byrd Centre Blog 

April 2016

Written by Headman Matyumza

Hello everyone, warm greetings from me and Kelvin and the cats at the Jean Byrd Centre, all of us are doing good.

Fewer guests come to visit us at this time of year, so it’s give us more time to tidy our garden and clean the enclosures. 

The number of guests is dropping down now as we approach winter but we had a group of 20 students from The Shamwari Conservation Experience and they were lovely. Most of them didn’t know what the Born Free Foundation is all about, so it was our duty and pleasure to explain and answer the questions.  

We split them into two groups, one for Kelvin and other one for me and we were very lucky, we saw all our cats. The information we gave them they said they will share it with their family and friends. We were also visited by a group of artists who come here to paint the cats but they managed to paint only the boys (Jora and Black) who were perfect models. 

Shamwari Conservation Experience volunteers

Shada, rescued from a French circus.  She arrived Shamwari November 2006 

She is doing very well and she is a strong lady. She always gets excited to receive her food and before she gets her food she always drinks water first. She is taking her food very well and ate it all.   We nearly always see her by the bottom right corner of her main enclosure. Sometimes we see her stalking the baboons grazing outside her main enclosure.  Some of our visitors saw her lying on her back, legs up on the air, looking totally relaxed.


Black and Jora, rescued from a Bulgarian circus.  They arrived Shamwari September 2015

They are doing absolutely fine and they are quite active; some mornings we will find them roaring, moving up and down by the bottom section of the main camp, playing together and chasing each other.  At the moment we are not sure who is dominant because today Black is chasing Jora, next time Jora is chasing Black. We still separate them during feeding time. The brothers are taking their food very well, eating it all and their body size is increasing.  They always have ways to charm our guests: the moment they see us on the viewing deck, they will come close to the deck, look at us with open mouths and don’t seem to object to our guests taking pictures of them.  

Kuma, rescued from Abidjan Zoo, Ivory Coast.  Arrived Shamwari March 1999

Kuma is doing well and taking his food and very well but he takes two days to finish his food these days as his teeth are worn down (he is 19 years old).  He seems interested in visitors when he is at the bottom of his camp close to the viewing deck and will mark his territory.  When we need to clean out Kuma’s camp, we encourage him into his hospital camp with food, so we can shut him in there.  He doesn’t like being shut in there though, I think he remembers this is what happens when Johan our vet comes to see him.  As soon as we open the gate, he runs out.  No sign of health problems apart from his teeth, which concern us.  All good otherwise.

Leda and her daughter Rhea. Rescued from Limassol Zoo in Cyprus. Arrived Shamwari June 2009

Mother and daughter are doing very well and taking their food very well, Rhea likes to chill inside her ‘kennel’ in the morning and later when the sun comes out we see her on the top of her shelter in the main camp.  During feeding times, she enjoys her food very much and she eats it in different spot each time.  

Leda likes to chill on top of her platform in the afternoons but in the morning you won’t see her, she will be hiding in the bushes waiting for the sun to come out.  Sometimes during our patrol we will see her in the bushes, I think it’s because it is getting cold now. Both cats are fantastic, no sign of any ill health despite being elderly: Rhea is 18 years old - Leda is 26 years old!

Read the latest Julie Ward Big Cat Diary here!

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

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