Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Jean Byrd Centre Blog

Written by Kelvin Buys, Animal Care Assistant

December 2018

Hello everyone

A warm greeting from the cats and from us at the Jean Byrd centre. It has been a busy month with guests of Shamwari coming to visit us almost every day, a lot of them joining the Born Free family by taking out adoptions, and becoming members of Born Free. Headman went on holiday so it was only the cats and me for a while, here at the Jean Byrd Centre. We did a lot of meat preparation to ensure there was plenty of food ready since we were a reduced team with some of my colleagues going on annual leave.  Summer was really showing his face this month so most of the time it was me telling the stories of our cats to our guests, but no cat in sight; they were all hidden in the shade of the bushes. We were grateful for the rain we got in between the hot days. The volunteer programme has closed for the year but I just want to say we had a lot of fun with the students and they were also a great help with keeping our camps clean.


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

Shada is doing well. She is a beautiful lioness. Some days she uses her shelter in the main camp as a platform to jump on and scan her territory and across the reserve. She is really in good shape now after her illness in October so I guess it’s safe to say she is still ‘pushing the wagon through the drift’, hey.


Black and Jora, rescued from a circus in Bulgaria after circuses with wild animals became illegal.  They arrived at Shamwari in September 2015.

Black and Jora are doing great. They spend most of the days in the main camp. Jora seems to be more aggressive than Black but they still have that close bond with each other.  The dark mane of Black is getting even darker and Jora also shows some dark hair here and there. Some of our guests are familiar with the rescue and they tell us they are so happy to see them in such a big camp.  

Black and Jora

Queen, an ex-breeding farm lion.  She arrived at Shamwari in April 2015

I must say she is a beauty. She is often seen lying in front of the viewing deck these days which is nice for our guests.  We get the usual comment that she looks like a Polar bear – and funnily enough she does.  She eats her meat well and is in a good shape. Another favourite spot is next to her shelter in the main camp and also close to Kuma’s platform although she is too lazy to jump on it.   She always joins in or starts the early morning roar where it seems as if the lions are greeting each other.



It’s very hot now and we don’t see much of these two.  I mostly see Leda whereas Rhea chooses to spend much of her time at the top of the hill in her main camp, amongst the bushes where it is cooler and only come down at feeding time.  She waits by the main gate to take her meat, then takes it up to the top of the hill again to eat.  Sometimes we see her on our daily fence patrols when she is inquisitive to see what we are up to.  Leda can sometimes be spotted on top of her platform, looking into Ciam’s camp and across the reserve.  These elderly ladies are both keeping very well.


Ciam, confiscated from a private home in France.  He arrived at Shamwari in May 2017.   


Ciam still seems to be growing and becoming a big boy who loves to eat. He still mostly uses his main camp but now and then we see him in the hospital camp. Our guests fall in love with him and they can’t believe he is not even four years old yet.    He is really is at home now. There are days when he jumps on top of his shelter to look around, or rub his face against the poles and he seems so calm and happy.  His mane is growing and it has loosened up a lot compared to when he arrived last year.  The boy roars very loudly and is sometimes joined by the others.  It is always stirring for us to hear them roar at the same time. It’s going to be a nice journey for us to see Ciam grow into a big lion, and the cherry on the cake is that we get to see all the small changes such as his mane getting darker, his paws getting bigger and that roar getting louder. Our baby boy will not be a baby for much longer.

Read the latest Julie Ward Centre Diary here

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

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