Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Rest In Peace Kuma

28 June 2016

Categories: Big Cats Campaign News, Rescue News

We share the sad new that Kuma, a magnificent leopard at our Jean Byrd Centre, Shamwari, South Africa, was euthanased on 23rd June, 2016.  He had started to show his age, taking a long time to finish his food, and instinctively perhaps, with a wild animal’s need to keep a low profile when feeling vulnerable, he was spending a lot of time hidden in the bushes at the top of the hill in his enclosure.  He was still keen to take his meat though, and would still patrol his territory, albeit more slowly.

All this was to be expected in a leopard of advanced years, however, last week Kuma was darted when he appeared to be deteriorating fast.  He was taken to Shamwari’s veterinary hospital for blood tests and a thorough examination.  Sadly it became clear our beloved Kuma was at the end of his life.  After much discussion, we all agreed it would be cruel to keep propping him up with periods of hospitalisation, frequent immobilisation to give intravenous fluids and other necessary veterinary intervention, all of which he would have hated.  We decided the time had come and he was given an anaesthetic for the last time.  Dr Johan Joubert, Shamwari’s vet, sent us this message:

“It was a sad day for all of us but also good that Kuma’s last days were as dignified as we could make them.  

“Kuma would have been 20 years’ old next month.  He had the typical symptoms of old age: mild dehydration, polyarthritis, severe muscular atrophy and worn teeth. It is always a difficult decision when the time comes. The necropsy (post mortem) confirmed our diagnosis. Kuma is buried at our rescue centre.    

“Kuma was the first animal that I had rescued. We went a long way together. Thus he will always have a special place in my memories.”

Johan had gone to the appalling Abidjan Zoo in Ivory Coast, to bring Kuma to Shamwari.  That was in March 1999.  

As a cub in Ivory Coast, Kuma had been cared for by a young man, Alberto Lena, before the authorities forced him to put Kuma in Abidjan Zoo.  14 years later, Alberto contacted Shamwari, not even sure if Kuma was still alive.  His visit and Kuma’s response to the visit moved everyone who witnessed it.

Alberto was able to visit one more time, in February this year, and once again, it seemed to be a special occasion for man and leopard.  Alberto was sad when he left, suspecting this might be their last meeting.  And such it proved to be.

Kuma was wild-born, probably stolen as a cub from his mother, and while he could not be returned to the wild, he was able to enjoy the magic of Shamwari for 17 years.  We are grateful to our many friends and supporters, and Kuma’s adoptive mums and dads who made this possible.

Kuma, we will never forget you.  

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

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