Achee & Sinbad are two lions living at Born Free’s big cat rescue centre in Shamwari Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Both lions were rescued from appalling captive conditions, but are now thriving at Shamwari.

Achee started life in Romania where she was bought by a private owner from a photographer who had been using her as a ‘photo prop’ for tourists. She lived in a cage in a car park until her owner accepted our offer of a new home for her. Due to her unsuitable early diet before coming to our centre in 2004, Achee is undersized and unsteady on her feet, but is happy and content.

Sinbad was also used as a ‘photo prop’ for tourists in Romania before being taken to a zoo in Bacau, Romania. Due to a poor diet in his early life, he is half the size of other male lions. He was rescued by Born Free and arrived at Shamwari in 2007.

In June 2015, Born Free introduced Achee to Sinbad, and they now happily share an enclosure. Their adopters help fund their lifetime care, including food, health checks and enclosure upkeep.

“Both Achee and Sinbad are doing very well – fit and healthy and pretty much always together, often copying each other’s movements,” says Maggie Balaskas, Born Free’s Animal Rescue & Care Manager. 

“Although Achee is certainly the leader in the relationship, they are both very affectionate, often seen rubbing their heads against each other, and so gentle with each other,” she adds.
Shamwari has been home to Born Free’s big cat rescue centres for more than 20 years. Our sanctuaries – the Julie Ward Rescue & Education Centre and the Jean Byrd Centre – highlight the plight of captive animals worldwide. The big cats in our care have come to Shamwari after being rescued from zoos and circuses, or from private homes where they were kept as ‘pets’. Because they would be unable to fend for themselves if released into the wild, they are given expert, lifetime care in a spacious, safe and natural environment.

The two centres are home to 16 lions and leopards rescued from appalling captive conditions. Our education centre also welcomes local children to learn about their own wildlife and about the suffering wild animals can endure in captivity.



Sign up to get the latest Born Free news about our work and how you can help, delivered straight to your inbox.