Dolo is a magnificent, fully grown lion, who lives at Ensessakotteh*, Born Free’s new Wildlife Rescue, Conservation and Education Centre in Ethiopia. Here he shares a large natural habitat enclosure with his companion Safia, a rescued young lioness. Their spacious home is filled with beautiful indigenous trees and bushes, with dense undergrowth to explore and sandy soil to roll in. What a contrast to his former life! Born Free rescued Dolo from horrendous conditions. For years he had a miserable existence, but now his life has been transformed.
Dolo’s heart-rending storyFor four long years, Dolo was kept on a 1m long chain by a private owner in southern Ethiopia near the Somali border. Emaciated and hopeless, every morning his desolate roar would echo around the town. He had a blank expression and seemed locked in his own world, while his mane had been rubbed off by the chain.Wild lions enjoy vast territories in the African savannah, living on their wits and hunting for prey in groups. Imagine Dolo’s frustration and loneliness.The Ethiopian authorities were willing to act to get him out of these appallingconditions, but had no funds. So Born Free stepped in. In 2007, Dolo – named after the town he was first found – was brought to a temporary enclosure in Awash National Park. He could at last have good food and medical treatment, but it wasn’t a long-term solution. Dolo deserved better. So Born Free sought funds to build him a proper home.
At Awash Dolo’s health improved and he became much more alert. But his eyes were still wide and anxious. His plight inspired our fundraising and we began building our new rescue centre on a beautiful 77 hectare (190 acres) site, just 30km from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. Here we created an extensive enclosure for Dolo.
In March 2011 Born Free brought the lonely lion to his wonderful new home. At last he can feel cool grass beneath his paws and shelter beneath the shade of acacia trees. Sadly he has limited vision, likely caused by early nutritional deficiency. But the anguish in his eyes has softened and he has grown more confident. And now he has a companion, little Safia, who was rescued as a tiny cub from a shack in southern Ethiopia. Dolo and Safia will always rely on our support.