Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Julie Ward Centre blog

October 2017

Written by Glen Vena, Animal Care Manager

Hello all.  Here is the latest news on our rescued lions and leopards.

Nelson, rescued from a French zoo.  He arrived at Shamwari May 2017

Nelson is the voice of Born Free here at Shamwari.  He has a very loud roar and when he roars the other lions at BF will answer his calls and roar with him.  It makes for a very interesting experience for our guests and school kids visiting.  They always ask “What are they saying?”  Well, I wish I could say, but I can only guess.  The sound always takes me back to George Adamson’s words, sharing a translation of a lion’s roar: “Who is the Lord of this Land? I am! I am! I am! I am!”… Indeed, Nelson is Lord of this Land; they all are. They might have started off in captivity and survived the worst conditions, but here they can live a life as close as can be to the life they were deprived of. To me when they behave in such a manner and we see the lion that was once so-called ‘tamed’, become lion again, it is just wonderful and makes me feel all warm inside.

See this footage of Nelson looking a very relaxed Lord of this Land.

Achee and Sinbad.  Achee was rehomed from a private home in Romania and arrived at Shamwari in September 2005; Sinbad was rescued froma Romanian zoo and arrived at Shamwari in August 2007.

Ah, these two cats are so in love and spend endless time together.  It took a long time for Sinbad to accept Achee but at the end love always wins. We see them often when we are with our guests, they do spend most of their time in front of their enclosure by the viewing deck, or at the sides of their main enclosure, catching up with Nelson or Jerry, Maggie and Sonja, their lion neighbours on either side of them.  No aggression will be displayed at any time. Just lion talk going on.

Sinbad saying a big hello to me

Jerry, Maggie and Sonja. Jerry was rescued from a Romanian zoo and arrived at Shamwari in August 2007; Maggie and Sonja were rescued from a German circus and arrived at Shamwari inJanuarey 2015.

Maggie and Sonja love to sleep on the platform that was built for them, but Jerry never attempts to go up there.  He is still the top cat on the ground though, and the sisters have a lot of respect for him.


Sami and Alam.  These two leopards were found as motherless cubs in Sudan.  They arrived at Shamwari inJuly 2001.

The brothers are well and look good.   See this footage of them play-fighting.  Alam was being brave, being on top of Top Cat Sami.  You can see his bravery fails him and he jumps off quickly!

We do not see the boys much during visitor tours. Many guests who visit our centre are hoping to see a leopard as it is very difficult to see them in the wild, and I know some are disappointed that even here at our rescue centre it is not easy.  We have left our camps with natural undergrowth and bushes, and so our leopards have a choice of whether or not they want to be seen. So, most of the time we do not see them. In their early years, these hand-reared leopards were interested in people and would come over when they heard voices, but nowadays they like their privacy.  For most of our guests, just knowing that the leopards are here and doing what they want to do is a big plus.

Alam (on top) and Sami wrestling
Alam (on top) and Sami wrestling

Brutus and Marina.  Brutus was rescued from a French circus, and Marina  was found as a sickly cub in a Romanian apartment.  They both arrived at Shamwari in April 2008.

Well, these two cats have a lovely relationship.  I saw them one morning playing and cuddling.  See the footage below.

So good seeing them thriving and enjoying each other’s company, Marina can be rough sometimes, and Brutus would lose his cool for a second, but she respects him and will stop her nonsense as soon as she sees he is not happy. 


We had a visit from Mark Wilson, from Land Rover, doing an audit of the ‘Born Free fleet’.  We are very grateful for the Defender we are provided with by Land Rover, which is so invaluable for our work.

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

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