Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Julie Ward Centre

Written by Glen Vena

All the cats are looking good! Weather was not that bad either.  We had several guests who came and saw our work and through them the message is spreading to a wider audience each and every day.

Photo - Shamwari/BFF
We even got see Abagail Gardiner, who now lives in England and does marketing for the Born Free Foundation, and it was so good to have her back with us again.

We also did a lot of work around the centres and we still need to look at all the maintenance issues that still need tackling in the coming weeks.

Photo BFF/Shamwari

As always my animal care team did their very best in getting the job done, it was really hard, keeping in mind that our team is much smaller now, but we made it work. So a big thank you to all the Wildlife staff who came to assist in the mammoth tasks.

Photo BFF/shamwari

We had VIP’s who came to see the Centres too! Well Virginia McKenna herself was here and this was such a big honour to have her here with us. Rock legend Brian May and songstress Kerry Ellis came too and taking them all around the Julie Ward Centre was an experience of a lifetime. They had come to help launch Born Free’s Pride of Cape Town event - and to see our work of course.  Virginia said the highlight of her visit was seeing all the cats again, and seeing how well they looked.

The Cats

Sirius – rehomed from Monaco Zoo in January 2008

He is looking so good I think, despite being nearly 21 years old, and more relaxed then ever.  He still likes to keep to himself as all leopards do in the wild.   He is so secretive, he really makes us work sometimes, trying to find him.  It is so good to have him here though.

My best experience this month was when I took Virginia, Brian May and Kerry Ellis around the Centre and we went to see Sirius.  I knew how important this was to Virginia as she had worked for years for him to be rehomed here.  When we got to the viewing platform at his enclosure we did not see him to start with, but I could hear him growling from somewhere in the bushes so I took a walk towards an old rickety platform that no-one is allowed on  and there he was sitting and sunning himself. I called the team over to come and have a look at him and Sirius came towards us, and walked past us all and then he disappeared into the bushes.  Then, just as we thought he had gone, I spotted a movement in the bushes and saw that Sirius had doubled back and was looking at us again through the undergrowth and he was so relaxed.

Sinbad – rescued from a Romanian zoo in 2007

He is so cool…, however I think he could smell it in the air that there is a new male on the block  (see below – we have transferred Brutus and Marina to Aslan and Stella’s old enclosure).  He seemed to know his short spell of being the only male lion in town was over.   It is interesting and amazing how these individuals can tell so much by just smelling the air. He was very restless and marked his territory several times but did not roar for some reason.   Hmmmm would loved to have known what was going on in his mind at that time. In general he is looking good, loves his food and most of the time we would see him more than the other lions at the Julie Ward Centre. He too got to spend time with Virginia and Brian and he was so relaxed even with the camera being there.

Sinbad enjoying his meat- photo BFF/Shamwari
Sinbad enjoying his meat

Triplets: Sami, Alam and Nimira, rescued in March 2001, having been found motherless in the Sudan.

They are doing just fine and they look great I think!   When they heard all the activity of Brutus and Marina being transferred to the Julie Ward Centre (see below) we could see them in the top corner of their enclosure which is closest to the water trough where Brutus and Marina were unloaded from their crates, watching everything going on.  Since then I have seen them looking in the direction of their new neighbours, and sniffing the air, but they don’t seem worried at all that there are two strange lions living next door to them.

Photo BFF / Shamwari
Nimira (in front) resting with Sami
Photo BFF / Shamwari

Brutus and Marina.  Brutus was rescued from a French circus, and Marina rescued from Romania; both arrived at Shamwari in April 2008

Well they are not newcomers; however they are new around the Julie Ward Centre. On 24th March we transferred Brutus and Marina, from the Jean Byrd Centre, into Aslan’s old enclosure, where they can have access to the impressive new hospital camps here. 

It was warm on the day of the move, and we called them over to a nearby tree next to the water trough.  It was interesting that Marina only really listened to Martin, who helped care for her at the Jean Byrd Centre.  They both chose places clearly used by Aslan and Stella, and Marina had a good sniff around before she settled down.

Brutus looks very at home already and he has already given a few roars that made the trees lose some of their leaves hehehe! He has this deep roar that makes everything vibrate a bit around you. Like Sinbad, he did not wait long before he started to claim his new turf by scent-marking his territory.  He has this walk at the moment which makes him look proud of himself, and as if he has accomplished something immense! 

Marina is a bit more nervous of her new surroundings and hasn’t started roaring yet.  For her it is a new home, with different smells and lots of bushes and trees something she did not have so much of at the Jean Byrd Centre, where it was more open, so this might be why she is spending time in the hospital camp and in their indoor quarters; she sees it as a safe spot, and where she is, Brutus is too.  Maybe too, it is warmer at night, and the concrete floors are cooler during the day. Hmmm, so many things to observe in the next few weeks that’s coming.

So, we must give her time to settle in at her own pace without too much interference from our side. However I’m glad to report that she is eating well and loves her food.  As always she will only take a few seconds to rip her meat apart and all is gone. 

As I write now, it has been a week since they arrived at the Julie Ward Centre, things are looking great and both look more relaxed and Marina has started to move around the main enclosure.

Photo BFF/Shamwari
Marina, with Brutus, looking more relaxed in her new home

Ma Juah and Achee.  Ma Juah was rescued from a private zoo in Liberia, and Achee from a private home in Romania.  Both arrived at Shamwari in 2004

Ma Juah looks good and her lick granuloma is healing nicely. Our vet, Johan, is on top of things and she has been responding really well to the treatment that we gave her in her food.   She also had to be darted again, to give follow-on treatment.  One thing that she did not like was to be separated from Achee, so they are back together again now.   I see, after a long time, they are visiting Sinbad in the next door camp, and spending time by the fence looking at each other.  However, MJ still does not trust Sinbad, she would sit behind a bush and look at him, and she will call to Achee with those cat-like calls, seeming to ask her to come away.

Well that is all that I have for you all and will have more next month!

Read the 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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