Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Achee (‘Ah-kee’) born in 1999 and Ma Juah born in 1996 are lionesses, who live at Born Free’s Big Cat Rescue Centre at Shamwari Wildlife Reserve, South Africa.  Here in their large bush enclosure – the size of a football pitch, the girls enjoy life in their ‘ancestral home’. Sadly they would never survive on their own in the wild, but at Shamwari they enjoy the next closest thing to freedom, surrounded by wild Africa.

Achee and Ma Juah’s stories

Achee in the snow in Romania

Achee used to live in the forecourt of the Cypriot Consulate at Bucharest. She was just a few days old when she was taken from her mother to be used for ‘cute’ photographs with tourists. The Cypriot Consul took pity on the tiny cub, and bought her from the photographer when she was only six weeks old. Thinking the cub was male, he named her Achilles after the Greek god.

Achee was much-loved, but it is extremely hard to care for a wild animal and her diet was deficient in important minerals. Because of this she suffered problems - her head twitched from side to side; her legs and back were out of proportion to her body. Despite this, Achee was a mischievous young lion, and enjoyed rough and tumble games with her handler, but in future years it was likely she would suffer painful arthritis. Born Free knew she needed to be away from the long, cold winters of Romania and kept in more natural surroundings.


Ma Juah in Liberia before her rescue

Meanwhile in Liberia, Ma Juah (which means ‘Mother’) lived alone in a compound. She and her brother were kept as pets by Charles Taylor, Liberia’s ex-President. The former dictator, now wanted by Interpol, left the country in 2003, and callously abandoned the two lions.

The pair went without food for 24 days and Ma Juah’s brother starved to death. Her plight was discovered by kind aid workers, who did their best to feed Ma Juah and contacted Born Free about her plight.

Like Achee, Ma Juah has neural and skeletal problems, this time due to her impoverished early diet. Born Free was determined to rescue both lionesses and give them a spacious new home and loving care for life in Shamwari.

In 2004 in July and September, Born Free brought first Ma Juah and then Achee to a new life in Shamwari.  Here, they have become friends and both grown much stronger, though their disabilities mean they will always ‘wobble’.

Sadly lions and other big cats face many threats, thanks to human activity. Captive animals are exploited in zoos and circuses; wild cats are killed for their beautiful fur and body parts.


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

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