Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Big Cat Diary February 2016

Jean Byrd Centre Diary

February 2016

Written by Headman Matyumza, Animal Care Assistant

Hello everyone, warm greetings from me and Kelvin Buys our new colleague.   The cats and we all are doing excellently here at the Jean Byrd centre. Following is an update on our rescued lions and leopards.

Shada, rescued from a French circus.  Arrived Shamwari November 2006

She is doing very well. In the morning she likes to spend her time under the needle bush close to the release gate and later in the afternoon she will be at the top of the hill under the trees minding her own business. She is taking her food very well and drinks a lot of water this hot weather.  

Brothers Black and Jora, rescued from a Bulgarian circus after wild animals became illegal in circuses in Bulgaria. Arrived Shamwari September 2015

The boys are doing very well. They are happy and they clearly enjoy their new home very much.  They seem interested in our guests and will come close to the viewing deck and stay there when the guests take pictures.

During my fence patrol they will follow me all the way round back to the hospital camp. Jora likes to stalk up on Shada, but Kuma on the other side, just walks along the fence line and ignores Jora. I notice that the ticks have become a problem to the boys especially Jora. They are taking their food well and leave nothing at all. We still separate them during feed time as we want to make sure everyone eats his food nicely and during the week we spend about two hours observing them closely, just to see what they are doing during a day. What I notice in the mornings is that they will be sitting close to the viewing deck with minimum movements and later they would go up to a shade behind the hospital camp or in the bushes there. They are used to the Born Free vehicles and as soon as they see the vehicle they will stand up and follow.  

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

He is doing well.  He still spends most of his time at the top of the hill under the trees.  There are nice trees there for shade.

He will walk down to us when he wants to.  He takes his food very well but what I notice now he struggles a bit to eat as his canines are broken. 

Alberto his original owner came to visit Kuma on 24th February.  Kuma came out to greet his friend and talk to him.  Alberto last visited in August 2012 and Kuma still remembered Alberto even though he hadn’t seen him for 14 years!  Click here 

Alberto’s deepest concern on this visit was Kuma‘s age – Kuma is 20 years old - but the boy is doing good. 

Kuma with Alberto, his wife Marie and daughter Ciara. 

Leda and her daughter Rhea, rescued from Limassol Zoo in Cyprus


Mother and are also doing excellently and they are taking their food as usual.  They are eating very well.

Leda: In the morning she likes to spend her time in a bush by the bottom fence line  and later in the afternoon she will be on top of her platform, sometimes wiping her face with her front paws, sometimes lying on her back.

She likes to accompany us when we are checking the fence and on her and her daughter. She is comfortable around any visitors she will look at them and pose at the camera! 

Rhea: she likes to be around her hospital camp, taking the early morning chill off lying on top of her kennel/wooden box, sometimes on top of her shelter in the main camp.

The other day I saw her feeding on a Guineafowl in the hospital camp that had flown in and she had caught it.

She likes to stalk her mom when she is in the hospital camp, she will even lean her foot on the middle gates looking at her mom. When we tried them sharing together though, she would chase her mum around, being territorial.  I don’t think it is friendly interest!


A touring French choir visiting Born Free

It has been a busy month with many visitors. 

We had a fantastic time with the kids from France.  They were brought by Shamwari Conservation Experience coordinators to get information on the Born Free Foundation and what is all about. They were very interested in what Born Free is doing around the world. 

We were also visited by two people from Land Rover UK and our centre sponsor, Jean Byrd with her friends. On the 24th of February of course, we had Alberto Lena and his family here again to visit Kuma. Sue Olsen, one of Born Free Foundation Free’s Trustees and her friend David Simpson and their party came here to see the Boys Black and Jora.  David and Sue are very generous sponsors of Born Free, and they had helped with the rescue of Jora and Black and they were so happy to see that the brothers are doing very well and looking good. 

Above, Sue Olsen and David Simpson at the visitor platform of Jora and Black.
Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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