Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild


Written by Glen Vena, Animal Care Manager

I have been away for most of September and at the same time I got married and what a lovely day we had, all went to plan.

Only one thing I wished for, that I could not make possible, was to have had the late Raffi and Anthea still with us.  They were remarkable lions that touched and changed my life forever professionally and they formed a big part of my life too, but it was not too be.  

But a big thank you to all who were able to make the wedding and to all in the UK who shared our special day from afar.

Enthea and Glen

Well all the cats I missed them dearly while I was away, and I was thinking of them all the time. However Martin, Headman and Uncle Sid did a very good job, that we all know!

We have been doing lots of cleaning around the Born Free Centres, from the gardens, walk ways, platforms and even the enclosures. This was lots of work and Abs and BFF UK arranged some extra hands for us to help with this operation clean-up!

The Land Rover has been great and very useful from cleaning to collecting lion food and even for collecting guests.

Martin is doing very well and is doing us all proud, he has been working extra hard and helping everywhere, he is also a favourite amongst the school parties that visit and the quality of work he is giving is exceptional, it exceeds every one’s expectations.  He is a example for all of us and he definitely inspires me to want to do more. 

Sirius, rehomed from Monaco Zoo January 2008

My old friend is looking good and he was observing us nicely while we were working in his camp, he was very calm and kept to himself and sometimes you would see him, watching us at work.  I think he was enjoying the company and not once did he show aggression. He is special and he needs that special time with us, this I have to come to understand.  He is beautiful too; people that get to see him are always speechless and he always puts a tear in one or two of our guests’ eyes.

See picture of him below:

Sinbad – rescued from a Romanian Zoo in August 2007

He is the man! Such a good looking lion and I see he has many adoptive mums and dads who come and visit him often from the UK.  On some days, especially after he has been fed, he will not show himself and his adoptive mums and dads would only hear him giving his mighty growls out of the bushes when you call him by his name, maybe telling me to leave him alone and that can’t I see he is busy eating?!   That’s the time you do not want to disturb him.

We also did lots of bush-clearing work in his camp and removed most of the kraal spike thorns that he does not need, however we’ve got much undergrowth to remove, this is going to be a mammoth job!

Born Free's rescued animals, lion Sinbad
Sinbad – I took this picture during my fence patrol and he came to say good morning!

Leopard Triplets: Sami, Alam and Nimira – rescued from Sudan in March 2001

They the coolest cats I’ve ever worked with.  Each of them has a totally different personality and can be vey mischievous if they want to be, just to name a few things: removing the ball valve of water trough, digging water pipes up and biting several metres into the pipe-  man, they are hard work. They just want me to go in and fix these things so that my scent is all over the place, then you would see them rubbing themselves on each spot that I have touched or worked on, maybe they marking me for dinner, hehehe!

We have been seeing them a lot and they love the area that we cleaned in front of the deck.  You would see them playing there and grooming each other enthusiastically, you would not believe it is them behaving like this.

Sami I still have to put in hosp camp when feeding as he can be a bit greedy. Other then that all good and they are as healthy as can be.

Born free rescued animals Sami leopard
Here is Sami I think he looks so charming! It is amazing how he looked at me, I love those eyes, he is very relaxed lately.

Ma Juah and Achee – Ma Juah was rescued from a zoo in Liberia in July 2004 and Achee was rehomed from a private home in September 2004

These girls spend most of their time in their hospital camp, although mid mornings they will come down to the front of their enclosure.  They are both looking good.  By choice they avoid our guests, so we very lucky if our guests ever get to see them; if they do they will be behind some bushes peering through.

During fence patrols I do see them and they will accompany me; Achee will always lead and she will be galloping in front of me and MJ would take a bite at her tail now and then, trying to keep up with her. Achee would then turn around and grab MJ with both her big paws and take her to the ground and she would leave her there and go and hide behind a bush. Achee is very playful all the time even during feeding. 

Ma Juah is still very protective over Achee and she does not take any nonsense when it comes to this.

Born Free rescued animals, lions
Achee in front and Ma Juah behind - the girls look fine and relaxed.

Aslan and Stella – Aslan rescued from Athens Zoo in Greece in September 1999, and Stella was rescued from Florina Zoo in Greece in October 2000.

They look good and they are always together.  Now and then Stella would refuse to go in the hospital camp, she knows this is where she has been darted when she has needed treatment, but lately she is okay and goes in to take food in there, and will even choose to sleep in the house when the weather is hot.  Their camp is beautiful after our bush-clearing work, nice and open but still cover for their privacy.  

Aslan and Stella are very elderly though, and are becoming slower and more deaf.  On some days the Land Rover has to work extra hard to get their attention as they would not hear it coming with food, so we have to use the horn to get their attention ; we have to use it several times. Then you will see them coming out slowly from where they were sleeping and they will be following each other as one is lost with out the other.  Well it is just my observation. They still eat food well; however I have been giving them more food without hard skin and less hard bones and more of the softer cuts. It is becoming harder for me, seeing them age, as I’m not sure one day when I go and check on them if I will see them, but we all have to go that road, isn’t it so?  I thought I should share this with you all, it is just how I try to comfort myself as it is very difficult to accept the inevitable.

Born Free's rescued big cats Aslan and Stella
Aslan and Stella dozing and sunning themselves.
Born Free's rescued big cat, lion Aslan
Aslan taking a walk in his camp
Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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