Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Big Cat Diary July 2016

JULIE WARD CENTRE BLOG

JULY 2016

WRITTEN BY GLEN VENA, ANIMAL CARE MANAGER

Dear friends, it has been cold and dry this winter, it feels much more so than other winters. However, the cats are doing well and look great too.

We have been extremely busy with guests, students, vet groups and school kids. So all in all a very busy month from our side and while busy it is not easy to take a picture as to what was happening at that exact moment, so with some of the descriptions of the cats’ activities you have to make a mental image!

JERRY, MAGGIE AND SONJA.  JERRY WAS RESCUED FROM A RUN-DOWN ZOO IN ROMANIA AND ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI IN AUGUST 2007; MAGGIE AND HER SISTER SONJA WERE RESCUED FROM A GERMAN CIRCUS AND ARRIVED SHAMWARI JANUARY 2015

Sonja (and Maggie sitting on their viewing deck

Sonja (left) and Maggie (right) sitting on their viewing deck, enjoying the morning winter sun.

When this photo of Maggie and Sonja was taken, Jerry was somewhere close to the fence trying to look for Sinbad. He and Sinbad like to keep an eye on each other.  The sisters are doing so well and look at home. Sonja is the ‘mum’, she looks after Jerry and Maggie. Well, I would see her getting up and going to Jerry while he is sleeping and she would start grooming him on his chin and behind his ears. That is so cool! She and Maggie are inseparable; where Maggie goes you would see Sonja following slowly, always keeping an eye on her. That’s why I say she is like a mum … she cares a lot about them. Well, she has her days where she would just sleep and ignore them and she would give a growl if they approach and they will know to back off.  Maggie on the other hand is very laid back, very playful. She loves to watch the leopard triplets next door, and will follow every movement they make with her beautiful eyes. Maggie and Sonja are also very vocal and will roar together and then Jerry will join in.  When I hear this I feel life is good and we are all content. Most definitely here at Shamwari it is the second-best place they can be, under the circumstances they came from. I know they left people at the Natuurhulpcentrum in Belgium who cared greatly for them. However, it is so nice to see that that these lionesses have accepted us here as their new family. Makes us feel really good, especially me and Martin who take care of them.  We have grown so fond of them.  Sonja and Maggie will come up to the fence to Martin and me, and start blowing air through their noses and they would rub their cheekbones and heads on the fence and wall of the hospital houses. They are so beautiful.

Jerry and Sonja taking a walk together
Jerry and Sonja taking a walk together
Maggie the lioness
Maggie

Maggie has these eyes that draw you to her and a personality that I have never seen in a lioness, so welcoming and so trusting, i do pinch myself sometimes to make sure I’m still here.

In this picture of Maggie, you can see how brown the grass is, it is really dry and we could do with some rain. Anyway I took this picture with my mobile and she was just sitting and making mewing-like sounds, those sounds so reminded me of the late Anthea and it always bring tears to my eyes. When Martin and I walk around the sanctuary we end up giggling at each other as I get so emotional with all that has happened here and all the cats that we had to say goodbye to and lay them to rest. We have given all to work with our cats here, our cats that have come from appalling places and we are human to have all these feelings.  I guess Africa is working her magic on the cats and they feel at home.  I hope we can continue doing what we do with everyone’s support around the world, as without this support it would not be possible.   

I still think a lot about Kuma our elderly leopard who was euthansed last month, and what a great cat/friend he was to all of us and to the kids who came here, and to the people who met him.   Kuma touched so many people and how can we forget him?  The names of our late cats regularly come up in conversation; we have not forgotten them and they are very much missed. I’m making this all personal now. But this is what we go through. We all have many challenges that we try to deal with one by one, but for me, the emotional ones are a bit difficult and it is nice just to share it, and I do hope it make sense to all. This is not just a job, this is a feeling, this becomes part of your life, your family and we feel their pain and it is hard when a friend leaves and never returns.  

JABULANI AND QUEEN, EX-BREEDING FARM LIONS.

ARRIVED SHAMWARI APRIL 2015

Jabulani and Queen the lions
Jabulani and Queen

They are the loveliest lions I have ever met. Both can be grumpy at times, especially when taking a picture of them; I guess they are a bit camera shy just like me. They love to go to a spot here in the open where they can sun themselves properly in the mornings, and this happens to be just a few meters from our visitors’ viewing deck, thus guests will see them more often than our other cats. These two make a lot of work for me and Martin; they have this spot near the viewing deck where they like to leave some nice smelly bombs for us and I think the culprit is Jabulani. So on the days that we clean their indoor houses, we would get them inside and we would go in and remove the poo/bombs(droppings) …. Jeff Olsen and Max Simpson, two recent volunteers, were lucky enough to experience this when they came to visit our reserve and I think the boys got to see a different side of our work and also learn a thing or two!

Jabu and Queen, they too have a lovely roar on them and it is actually louder than Brutus’s roar and we can here Jabulani’s roar echo for kilometres, on and on till the Shamwari lions answer too, so cool!

ACHEE AND SINBAD.  ACHEE WAS REHOMED FROM A PRIVATE HOME IN ROMANIA IN SEPTEMBER 2004;  SINBAD WAS RESCUED FROM A ROMANIAN ZOO IN AUGUST 2007 

Sinbad and Achee lions
Sinbad and Achee

These two are so funny but yet again so lovely together. Achee really loves him. Sinbad, I’m not too sure.   It seems he does not know how to be affectionate towards her. Don’t get me wrong now, he is not ugly to her, he does not hurt her at all. He just looks away when she tries to love him, so strange. I took this picture also in the morning while they were getting the morning sun on them. Achee was on her back with her paws on her chest and he was less than a meter from her and he shows her That Face, and she will be like ‘take me Sinbad, take me’, and he will be like ‘leave me alone lioness’.  Makes me giggle!

Achee the lioness

Here is a close up of Achee, she still has her rosettes on her belly just like a cub would have them. She is so lovely.

BRUTUS AND MARINA.  BRUTUS WAS RESCUED FROM A FRENCH CIRCUS AND MARINA WAS RESCUED AS A CUB FROM ROMANIA.  BOTH ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI IN  APRIL 2008

Brutus and Marina the lions

This is Brutus and Marina, looking good. Brutus has a small limp on his right front leg, our vet Johan has darted him before and examined him properly and he did not find anything wrong with him. What I know he had an in grow nail there, maybe he thinks it is still in his padding, soon Johan will check him out and maybe take x-rays if needed. 

Other than that not much wrong with him. He is big, he is hairy, he has an attitude and is scary in the most beautiful way, well he is a lion and he looks handsome! He has a lioness that adores him and spends her time playing with him, pulling his ears and his tail, they are so close…. What more is there to say …. Everything is well.

Brutus and Marina the lions
The leopard triplets

Right, is a picture of the triplets all three together, well they were all over the place and they were doing what they want and not co-operating. 

Guests are still very lucky to see them. They are still loved. They are getting older, Sami and Alam are always close to each other and Nimira doing her thing she doesn’t mind the boys, she likes to her thing. The other day I saw her trying to catch some mice that’s occupying a hole in their main camp. Poor mice I hope they ready for her, as one of these days she is going to get them she has lots of patience, I see and she is taking her time with them. I hope the brothers doesn’t spoil it for her as they are as lazy as can be, but want to jump in and eat, well we will just have to wait and see. 

Jean Byrd Diary

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


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