Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Julie Ward Centre Diary - April '11


Blog by Glen Vena

I have to start off by reporting on the new Land Rover Defender we took delivery of; it is a good feeling to have a brand new landie!

This one arrived with an instructor!  We had to do some Land Rover training.  We all did well in the class.  My favourite part was the practical, that went well too. 

Please see picture below, the new girl with all the team.


I must mention some new friends: see picture below Sophie and her family.  Sophie had raised raised £500 pounds in aid of BFF in the UK, and they all came out to see our cats.

Photo BFF/Shamwari
(From left), Abs, Dad, Sophie, Poppy, Me, and mum, Judith

On a more serious note, we have needed our vet to visit a few times this month.  It is very worrying or sad to find out that one or two of your cats that you are caring for are not doing too well.  All ended happily though.

The first veterinary treatment was of Alam, one of the leopard triplets.


On 2nd April I had noted a warty growth on Alam’s hip.  (Well spotted, Glen! Editor)

Alam's wart - Photo BFF

Our vet, Dr Johan Joubert, thought it was probably just a benign skin tumour, and we could leave it and see if it grew.  However, after discussions with Born Free’s senior vet consultant in England it was decided to remove it, just in case it was a melanoma.   Better safe than sorry.  So, on 11th April Alam was darted to have it removed, so we could send off the growth to the laboratory. 

Dr Murray Stockoe did the darting, all went well to with this procedure and Alam is recovered fully now.   (And it turned out to be a benign tumour.)  After Alam had woken up properly from the anaesthetic we let him out of his hospital camp to rejoin his brother and sister and it was just amazing seeing Nimira grooming Alam; it was the longest greeting I have seen! I mean poor Alam is always grabbing the short stick, but here was sis and bro sniffing him and grooming him, making sure he was all good, it was lovely!   They didn’t lick his stitches either, so that was good. 

We had some students from the World Wide Experience come to help us, and they were vet nurses, so their help was really appreciated, I also learned some useful tips from them, so it was just great to have them. 

Photo BFF/shamwari
Murray did a good job


Aslan was the next to need the vet.  At around 21 years old, Aslan and Stella are our oldest cats and Aslan especially is starting to show his age.  Dr Johan Joubert and Dr Murray Stokoe darted him on 12th April, as he was looking gaunt and dehydrated.  We took some blood tests and gave him fluids.  We darted him at 10.20am in the morning, and it took him a real long time to come round.  It wasn’t until 7.20pm that night that Murray felt happy to leave him.  There was nothing much to be learnt from the blood tests though, just what we know already – that Aslan is pretty old!  He was back to normal the next day, angry at being shut in his hospital camp and charging the fence.    Stella was very happy when he was allowed out in the main camp again.  Aslan should be a bit happier now too, as Murray has said I can increase his food allowance!

Photo Aslan - BFF/Shamwari
Johan left and Murray right, both working on Aslan, all went well just took him 9 hours to be fully awake.
A not very good looking Aslan, Murray came to have a look at him, you can see the reddish stuff on his main that got me very worked up

After all this was over I had another worry with Aslan!   I had fed Aslan and Stella the previous day, so had shut them in their separate hospital camps to make sure they eat their food / Aslan doesn’t take Stella’s.  Anyway, I went to Aslan’s side, to open up and when he came out of his indoor quarters I could see he had blood on his mane. 

So many things went through my mind, I wondered if he and Stella had had a fight as I could not see Stella as yet. But if this was the case, how had one got in with the other as I always keep them separate?  For a moment I went cold and my mind went a blank!   I called Murray to come over, I never seen him arrive so quickly!  When he arrived he could see Aslan must have scratched his ear with his back paw, and the claws had damaged the bit of skin behind his right ears.  And, where he had been rubbing his ear over the walls in his indoor house, it had got the blood all over his mane.  A little bit of blood goes a long way!

Both together, they look great and his mane looked as if it was combed!! Photo BFF/Shamwari
Both together, they look great and his mane looked as if it was combed!!

SINBAD (rescued from a Romanian zoo in August 2007)

Sinbad - Photo Vena/BFF/Shamwari

Sinbad was the third cat to need veterinary attention.  On 19th April, Sinbad did not appear when we arrived with food.  Usually, as soon as he hears the landie, he will be by the fence waiting, and when this didn’t happen, my gut feeling told me something was wrong.   I called and called for hours, then contacted Dr Johan Joubert, our vet.  He arrived and we both went into Sinbad’s enclosure to try to find him.  We found him in the bushes.  We touched him with a 1 metre long pole and although he only made a small weak growl, we saw he had life at least, so went out very fast.  Johan did his preparations to dart him.

We went back to dart him, and took him to the hospital where Johan could observe him further and keep an eye on him.

Sinbad is a very small lion but at the end poor old Sidney and I had to carry him, as Johan was carrying all the vet kit.  Sinbad was so heavy!!!  By the time we had struggled over the rough terrain to the landie, I was done in.  Sidney drove to the hospital and I sat with Sinbad, with his head on my lap, making sure he was breathing and that his airway was open, eish!  

It turned out nothing was really wrong with him.  He did used to struggle with the heat when he first arrived, and we had even considered cutting off his beautiful mane and fur under his belly, to make him feel more comfortable, but then he seemed to start adapting to our climate.  The temperature was around 30 deg C on the day he went missing, after a couple of cool days, so perhaps his collapse was weather related.  Anyway, our vet saw some muscle wastage, but the blood tests showed no major problems.  He was so friendly when he came round in the hospital cage, but when he was asleep, however much you called, you could not rouse him, you had to touch him on the ears to do this.  It seems, like Aslan, he is very deaf, although Sinbad is only about 10 years old.

He is great now, takes his food well and very playful on some days.

Sinbad happy - Photo BFF/Shamwari
Sinbad, sunning himself, after all the drama

Ma Juah and Achee.  Ma Juah was rescued from a private zoo in Liberia and Achee from a private home in Romania.  They both arrived within weeks of each other in 2004

The girls are doing very well and they look good.  They were very concerned when Sinbad was darted.  They were by the fence the whole time watching us.  They were probably having a good laugh at Abs, our manager, as she was trying to have a conversation with two vets, one in England, and one here, and she had a mobile phone on each ear.  It looked so funny, Chrissie and I had a chuckle about it anyway.  I will not include a picture, I think I might be in big trouble!

Anyway see picture of MJ and Achee, below.

Achee Ma Juah - Photo BFF/Shamwari
MJ in front and Achee in the back all good, but they were very concerned at Sinbad being darted.

Sirius, rehomed from Monaco Zoo in 2008

We don’t see Sirius very often.  During feeding yes, we will see him but it will be very brief and he will take off into the bushes. For me he loves his privacy too much, it does create problems, because we have to keep a daily check on all our cats.I

Finally to end my blog off for April, see picture below:

Photo BFF Shamwari

There are many things to be grateful for these day, to still have a job, to be working with our lovely cats, and to be surrounded by people who are keen to help others at any cost. Last year Jayne le Cras who works for the GSPCA in Guernsey, and who raised the lion cubs Marina and the late Sarnia, sponsored me to go and do my heavy duty drivers licence.  Well here I’m putting it to good use at BFF, driving trucks!   We ran out of water at BFF and I used this beast to fill our tanks up.   Christine had a very big smile on her face when she got water after two days of not having any. Thanks Jayne!!!!!

See the Jean Byrd Centre diary here

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

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