Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Jean Byrd Centre Blog

Jean Byrd Centre blog
November 2016
Written by Headman Matyumza and Kelvin Buys, Animal Care Officers

Kelvin, Catherine our Born Free Centre Manager, and Bryony Hedley one of our long-time supporters, inside the Jean Byrd Education Centre.

Hello everyone, warm greeting from us and the cats. 

We all doing excellently and are getting busier as we approach our busy summer season. We were lucky this month when we were visited by our old Born Free friend, supporter Bryony Hedley, a beautiful down to earth lady, who adopted one of our cats, Shada. 

We keep any eye on each and every thing that needs to be maintained and make sure our garden is looking beautiful but it is still dry this side and we hope for rain!  During the week, as well as our normal jobs, we sometimes drive down south to assist the BFF team at the Julie Ward Centre with guests or students, and with preparing the meat.  


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

Shada is doing very well and taking her food very well, and we see her every day.  In the morning she likes to chill on top of her shelter in the main camp minding her own business. It seems she no longer feels the need to check out her neighbours quite as much. The white lions Queen and Jabulani, were transferred to the Jean Byrd Centre in September, now she is not staring them at them every day, like she used to. The lion brothers Jora & Black have been here over a year now, and she is still stalking them but not too much, maybe twice a week. She is a feisty lady.

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

The girls are doing fantastic. In the morning Leda likes to be in the hospital camp inside her kennel, then when the sun becomes hot she will get out to look  for nice shade in the main camp, sometimes behind her shelter or below her jungle gym. Rhea is also well, she is not nervous of the white lions anymore.  We think she is used to them now because one day we saw her sitting on top of her kennel looking at Jabulani on the other side, and seemed very relaxed.  Both cats are looking good, no sign of any illness, we are just aware of Leda’s great age – apparently she is 26 years old - and we make sure we see her every day.

Black and Jora, rescued from a Bulgarian circus in September 2015.

Our boys are becoming big lions now, always together.  Jora’s mane is still mostly blond but Blacks is very dark. When we separate them for feeding, and then let them be together the next day, it still fascinates us to see how happy they are to be together.  While doing our fence patrol one morning we saw them playing, chasing each other in and out of the hospital camp. Jora is never intimidated by us being so close to the fence line, yet with Black it seems a different story.  We think he likes to show his dominance to us. 

Queen and Jabulani – ex-breeding farm lions.  Arrived Shamwari in April 2015 and transferred to the Jean Byrd Centre in September 2016

Queen and Jabu are great; our guests are always amazed at how beautiful they look. Jabs our big guy is looking absolutely fantastic despite having picked up burrs that stick on his thick mane.

They love to be in the shade of the tree that is very close to the water trough, and we do see them close to the platform in the main camp. It’s good to see that Jabu is not stalking the leopards anymore. Queen loves Jabu very much.  We have to separate them when we feed them but as soon as they’re done eating we let them be together. 

Julie Ward Centre Diaries >

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

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