Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Jean Byrd Big Cat Diary May 2012

Written by Martin Miritiawo, Animal Care Assistant and Education Assistant

Imagine waking up to the sound of roaring lions, how cool is that for a wake up call.  This is generally how I start my day every day. As a guide I live a life filled with awe, every day there is always something new to see, something to show, something to share. These days I help host school groups at the Julie Ward Centre and what adventures we have with both young and old people.  We discuss nature conservation, the Born Free Foundation, animals in captivity etc., and we also do game drives.

Recently we stumbled upon a herd of elephants; I could feel my guests’ hearts palpitating with wonder coupled with a dash of nervousness, what an awesome sight.  Working with kids you have to anticipate anything, fortunately this group were well behaved and I had nothing to worry about. As a bonus, they left loaded with the information I had the pleasure of sharing with them. It’s such a gratifying feeling each day when the sun sets to know that maybe I have touched minds, and hopefully I have helped shape the world.

Well, enough about schools. It’s time to update you on how our cats are doing at the Jean Byrd Centre.

Kuma, rescued from Ivory Coast in March 1999

Kuma the Leopard (c) BFF/ Shamwari

As usual he is doing well. Sometimes we spend a day without seeing him, especially after feeding; he hides himself for a while then appears again which shows that privacy is of significant importance to him.  The other morning we saw him resting on top of the shelter where he had dragged the remains of his food on to the roof, and he was snarling at us, telling us to keep away.

Shada, rescued from a French Circus in November 2006

Shada the Lioness (c) BFF/ Shamwari

Shada was in a playful mood when I took this picture, running back and forth alongside me while I was doing my fence check.  These days she spends more time out in the open where we can see her, which is good that we get to see her every day.

Leda and her daughter Rhea, rescued from Limassol Zoo in Greece, in June 2009

Leda, the Leopard (c) BFF/ Shamwari
Leda
Rhea, the Leopard (c) BFF/ Shamwari
Rhea

The girls are looking good.  Leda likes to relax in the open spaces especially in the grass close to the platform, she seems to be fine with those of us who work with her on daily basis, but the moment she sees other people such our guests approaching the viewing deck; she gets up and walks slowly towards the middle of her enclosure, sometimes she enters inside the shelter or sits on the platform to observe from a distance.  It is good she has this opportunity to put distance between herself and people if she wishes; she had no choice in the zoo and was always on show.

Rhea; hides herself after having food, she will come out for a short time to check on us and then go back to hide herself in the bushes in the middle of her camp or at the top of her camp.  When she is waiting for food, she will sometimes stands on top of the kennel which gives her a good view of the road, to check if anyone is bringing her meat.


Jools and her son Jerry, rescued from a Romanian zoo in August 2007

Jools and Jerry, Mother and Son (c) BFF/ Shamwari

These two like to save their energy!  Minimum movements from both of them; although when Jools feels like playing they will have a tussle together.  They are both doing well and looking good.

Read about the cats in Julie Ward Centre

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


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