Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Julie Ward Centre

D. Vena / BFF / Shamwari

Week ending 8th June

Report by Glen Vena

How I suddenly miss the summer. It is freezing down here!! Temperatures are between 15ºC and 18ºC during the day and fall at night.   Fortunately the cats seem not to mind this … even Sarnia and Marina the lion cubs are early out and playing in the wet grass and they look so funny with their wet paws and wet bellies.

He is always first on my list of reporting, have you noticed this?!  He grows on you and you just can’t look away, I’m sure you understand what I’m trying to say here. This lion is doing extremely well here and looks great.  His body is fuller than when he came.  At first you could see his ribs and his pelvic bone. He now looks more lion-like. However I’m trying my best to maintain his weight at this stage and not let him put on too much fat.  

In the wild our cats would be more active: hunting, patrolling their territories; there would be lots of competition from other lions / leopards – they would have to be on top of their game out there.  So, without all these reasons for energy expenditure, there is less need of food from us.

Sinbad does love his food though!  The other day I tried him with something different, I gave him some intestines and the stomach from a cow that we just got in and it was really fresh.   In the wild lions would select what they wanted from the internal organs as they contain useful vitamins and minerals.  Well, you should have seen him, I was bowled over!  We put this food in the hospital camp and he could not wait to get in there.  As soon as Dan slid back the sliding gate, he ran in and plunged his face into the intestines and started to eat, growling all the while.

Den and I had taken most of the grass out of the stomach to make it easier for Sinbad to tackle, as his worn-down canines are not sharp for tearing, they are short, only about the size of his rear molars.  We left some grass in there for him though and man, he was enjoying it!  I just wish you were here to have seen it.   Every day we learn something new about our rescued cats.

Pitou and Sirius
Pitou is starting to be a favourite with the rangers as she likes to sit on the jungle gym and they can see her from the road when they go by, and they will often stop and come in and see her.

Sirius, he is still a very shy leopard and we only get a glimpse of him during our fence patrols.  Even during feeding will we see him for about a minute at most and then he will be gone.

Pitou was not far from the corner fence where she can see into Sinbad’s enclosure.  She was just dozing and rolling around on her back trying to get the sun on her just to warm herself up a little. She did not mind me at all, she just carried on with what she was doing, although keeping one eye on me at all times.

Tuesday 10th June – Den and I tried to get them into the hospital camp, so we could clean out the bones from their camp.

We did everything slowly and carefully.  First of all we went into the hospital camp with our bush cutters (strimmers) to cut down the long grass in case Murray, our vet, needs to dart them for any reason, and he will need a clear view to do this.

Then we gave them a day to relax without us.

Then on the 12th we tried to encourage them into the hospital camp by leaving their food about 4m inside the sliding gate.   We then went to take cover in the surrounding bushes.

Pitou tried it first.  She did not want to go into the camp, but she seemed to be acting as if the sliding door was closed, even though it was now open.  You could see her confusion.  She closed her eyes and used her paws to check the area out, and make sure her sensitive nose was not going to get a shock from an electric fence. Because her eyes were shut she did not realise when she was half way through.   Then she opened her eyes, and with the smell of the meat so close by, it was too much for her and she had to go through.

The best part is that Den captured all of this on his cellular phone, now we’ve just going to figure a way to down load it safely onto the desktop that we have in the office so that you can see it.

For Sirius, it was much easier as Pitou had done all the scary work.  He just ran through after Pitou was inside.

There seems to dominance challenges going on with Pitou and Sirius.  Pitou, the female, has now been seen mounting Sirius, not sure if she wants to mate or dominate him.  Sirius doesn’t fight back or anything, he just lays there.  She has also tried to steal his food so now, usually, I feed them in different areas.

Perhaps Pitou and Sirius couldn’t be dominant with each other in the zoo as they only had a small space, but now there is a territory to defend, perhaps Pitou has become more territorial.

Pitou (c) D. Vena / BFF / Shamwari
Pitou takes a drink

Achee and Ma Juah
The girls have been keeping to themselves lately and ignored Sinbad’s beautiful roars in the evenings. Ag, they too want to be alone sometimes. I’m not sure how poor Sinbad deals with that.

Now that it is winter they are more in the thickets. I think all the cats might start to do this soon.  They sometimes use their wooden shelters but not for long. During fence patrols I would find them together curled up next to each other behind a bush that is blocking the wind.

Aslan and Stella
These two are doing very well.  We only see them occasionally when we have guests, but we see them each time when we do fence patrols.  Aslan will give yóu a strong heart beat if yóu do not watch where you are walking and you get too close to his comfort zone!

During feeding they behave very well and each would just take their food and walk away. They do finish their food always, even though they are on reduced rations.  The diet is starting to work as they are loosing weight nicely now.

The weather they do not mind even if it is cold or hot. Just the other day it was raining and Den and I were doing a fence patrol to see if the fence was running okay and to check there were no faults. To my surprise, both Aslan and Stella were sitting under a Qwarry tree keeping away from the rain and at the same time they were grooming each other.   I know you would have liked a picture of this, but the flash really annoys Aslan, and you should never disturb such a moment just taking a picture.  We have built them a very nice shelter where they could have been bone dry in there. They just prefer to be natural and shelter in the bushes!

D. Vena / BFF / Shamwari
Relaxing together in the winter sun

Week Ending 30th June 08

Credit: Den Vena / BFF / Shamwari

Weather:  Has been cold here, especially in the morning. Temperature is between 6º C in the morning and 15º C in the afternoon. The cats don’t mind this and you would see them at their most active.  We do not see them seeking protection from the elements in their shelters.  Maybe they use them at night when we not here. Whenever we are there though, they are always outside.

He is looking great and is better then  ever. He loves his food.  We see him being much more territorial now, he sprays his urine to mark his turf and he roars very nicely.

We have also seen him on a couple of occasions with the skin of the carcass he was given to eat.  We are not sure if this is because he has problems tackling the skin because of his worn canines and he carries it around with him until he has managed to eat it.  Or maybe he just likes carrying it around! 

Photo BFF/Shamwari
Ma Juah

Ma Juah and Achee
The girls are well. The other day I caught them off guard trying to locate Sinbad. I could not believe this as MJ was the leader and she was calling him too! She was not roaring, lions make another sound when they look for each other, almost like when a lioness is calling her cubs, she was doing that. They went to the corner where they normally meet and they made themselves comfortable and just lay there waiting for Sinbad to show his face. However he did not appear while I was there, maybe later. I had to get back to the centre and see if there any guests coming.  Later I went back but none of them were about.  I would have loved to have seen this interaction between them.
Feeding - The girls will eat anything just like Brutus.  I gave them some intestines the other day and they loved this.

Credit: Den Vena / BFF / Shamwari
Aslan - giving Den the eye!

Aslan and Stella
I wonder what Aslan thinks of the new kid on the block, Sinbad, now that he has started roaring.  Aslan’s have been the only male lion roars at the Julie Ward Centre since the late Raffi died in May 2006.

He and Stella are both well and Den took some good pictures of them. Normally you can not do this with Aslan.  You see he has this thing for cameras – he hates them!   Perhaps he thinks they are dart guns.  Den managed to get the photos though, and Aslan was totally calm all the time.

Credit Den Vena / BFF / Shamwari
Top to bottom - alam, Nimira and Sami

Pitou and Sirius
These two leopards are doing very well, consider they have so recently arrived. Sirius is still holding back. However when he does not see any people around, he will go out onto the jungle gym and sun himself, but as soon as he hears voices he will be gone in seconds.

The plan of Den and I to feed him inside the hospital camp is working and he goes in nicely. But he does not stay in there and eat his food. He takes it out to the main camp. At this stage we do not want to force him in there that is why we leave the sliding gate open, so when he gets nervous he can go out. In the future, when he is totally relaxed I will then shut him in.  That feeling has to come from inside you, then you know it is time.   Other then that they are well and look great. Pitou is the greatest. Sometimes I do fear that she bullies Sirius, she is so independent and would growl at poor Sirius when he gets too close on some occasions.

Triplets – Sami, Alam and Nimira

They are such a fun bunch! Always out and so playful with each other when there is not food around! What is there to say about them that I have never said? I’m running out of words here! They are too good. No problems at this stage.

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

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