Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

May 08 diaries

Jean Byrd Centre

27.4.08 (Glen) – our new guests arrived!  Brutus, a lion from a circus in France and Marina and Sarnia, two abandoned lion cubs from Romania.  Further details and photos here >

It is quite appropriate that today is Freedom Day in South Africa!  
(This is a public holiday and commemorates the first democratic post-apartheid elections held on that day in 1994 when the elections were the first non-racial, democratic elections that everyone of voting age of over 18 from every race group was allowed to vote in.)

02-05-2008  (Glen) - Yesterday I was up at the Jean Byrd Centre to see how Brutus, Sarnia and Marina was doing and at the same time got to see them exploring their new homes. This was so good to see and they looked so comfortable.

He looks okay, but still a bit grumpy, well I would not blame him, he had a long journey.

I personally think all the space and bush was too much for him at first so he was just sitting in one area without exploring it. He is also starting to eat slowly but surely and he prefers his meat without skin. This he would take gently and eat it slowly too. He is starting to find his feet.

He has lots of attention being paid to him! The three J’s and Shada are watching him from a distance. At this stage he does not seem to be bothered with them but he does sleep to the right of his enclosure away from their enclosures.

Brutus the lion
Brutus on his first day at Shamwari, looking rather unsure about his new surroundings - photo Roland Leon / Sunday Mirror

Sarnia and Marina:
They are very much at home. And they are enjoying each other’s company all the way. They have been really busy exploring and at this stage their best spot is around their mini boma, they climb on it and pull all the spekboom out that has been planted there; they are so full of energy.  Marina was sitting on top of the mini boma or shelter and Sarnia was lower and she was stalking me while I was busy taking the pictures. All the time her eyes were focused on me. They seem to be doing very well and at this stage they are not longing for that human touch, so we do not go in with them, they seem to be enjoying wresting the bushes in their enclosure, well the aloe’s are not safe from them!

Photos of the lions marina and sarnia Credit: Glen Vena / BFF / Shamwari
Marina (top) and Sarnia (below) on their shelter, minus many of the aloes planted there!

And this is what Bongani wrote:

The temperature this week was very low, ranging between 15ºC min and 23ºC max.

He was a bit shy and moody at the same time. He spent most of his time sitting at the bottom right corner of his enclosure and it appeared that he wasn’t doing any form of exercise or walking around, because the grass around where he was sitting was flattened.

While I was busy feeding the cubs I saw Brutus sitting next to the fence close to the cubs. I decided to give him a piece of the meat. He polished it off in seconds. I was impressed and decided to give him another piece because up until now he hasn’t seemed to want our food.  He then followed me until we got to his water trough where he satisfied his thirst. Since that day Brutus and I are like pals. He was also very relaxed today with guests this morning. He didn’t do much besides snoozing. He is doing very well though.

Sarnia and Marina:
Marina is very inquisitive and anything that walks/fly next to or in the camp gets chased away. A residing pair of secretary bird flew into the cubs camp the other day. Marina was the first one to run away but Sarnia was very brave, she stalked them until she was about ten metres but she didn’t wait to get closer, she just got up and went for the kill. The two birds were so surprised that one of them hit the overhang on it’s way out of the enclosure. Fortunately for the bird it escaped unhurt though.  Usually before taking off these birds need to have run for a few metres before take off, but this time it was more like triple jump followed by a take off.  Sarnia watched them for a while and later on went to join Marina who was busy levelling the ground around the shelter and uprooting the plants. We always feed them away from Kuma to avoid conflict that may arise between the two animals. They are doing extremely well.

When he first saw his new neighbours he went wild wanting to kill them. Unfortunately in the process of trying to get to the cubs he touched the electric fence and that didn’t improve his opinon of them.  He still does his patrol each morning but sometimes he ends up watching the cubs. He didn’t do much today when I was at his deck with guests. He moved from under his jungle gym to sit in front of us but he paid all his attention to the cubs next door. He quickly realised that growling or attacking the fence was only hurting himself so now he has decided to monitor them instead of trying to kill them.  Hopefully he will soon get used to their presence.

Kuma the leopard - Photo Virginia Lundin
Kuma snoozing

She has already stopped being curious about the new arrivals. She also doesn’t seem to care when the Three J’s are patrolling up and down the fence-line by her camp.  She is well and most of the time is to be found in her favourite place in the middle of her enclosure minding her own  business.

Jools, James and Jerry:
Most of the time they are sitting and watching Brutus whenever he moves. When they first saw Brutus they took turns jumping onto the roof of their mini bomas or shelters in their main camp and as a result they ended up breaking the roof which we now have to repair!  They were very relaxed this morning when I took the guests up to see them Jools was sitting/ sleeping in front of the viewing deck and occasionally she lifted her head as if she was listening to hear a particular sound.

Credit: Glen Vena / BFF / Shamwari
Mum Jools (foreground); James (left) and Jerry (right) resting in the open as the weather was not too hot
Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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