Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Shada is a young lioness who lives at Born Free’s Jean Byrd Big Cat Rescue Centre at Shamwari Wildlife Reserve, South Africa. Here in her three-acre natural habitat enclosure the size of a football pitch, she is surrounded by the sights and sounds of wild Africa, her ancestral home.

What a contrast to her former life. For years, she was kept in a rusty cage at a circus in the Dordogne, France, gazing pitifully through the bars. She and two other lions were never let out, and barely had room to turn around.

Shada’s story

Shada (born 1998) lived an empty life in a squalid 18ft ‘beast-wagon’, together with a male lion Djunka (born 1991) and another female, Nalla (born 1991). Each was caged alone in a 6ft x 6ft compartment. They were kept by the circus for breeding and over the years had produced many litters of cubs, which were taken away from them and sold.

These magnificent creatures ought to embody the spirit of freedom, the pride of the African savannah. But they were never allowed out of their cage, it was welded shut.

The circus kept them illegally as a sideshow, so people could be ‘entertained’. Born Free was horrified by their plight. Working in partnership with a French animal welfare group One Voice, we were determined to give Shada and the other two lions a better life. But it is complicated and expensive to rescue a big cat, let alone three. We needed to organise innoculations and permits, and raise at least £30,000. In June 2006 we launched an appeal to GMTV viewers, Sunday Mirror readers and Born Free supporters.


Shada being released to her new sanctuary

The response was unprecedented. Over the following weeks, with the help of our sponsors, we raised enough funds so the rescue could go ahead.

In early November 2006, under the watchful eye of Born Free’s vet John Knight, our expert big cat rescue team first brought the lions by ferry from France to the UK, in specially designed travel crates. Then the lions were loaded onto a plane at Heathrow and flown to South Africa, at every stage their welfare our priority. Then at last, on 4th November 2004, Shada, Djunka and Nalla arrived for a new life in Shamwari. They stepped out onto grass, probably for the first time in their lives.

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


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

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