Thank you! Over the last three months, we have told you all about Angela, Bellone, Louga and Saïda – the four lions who lived and performed in a travelling circus in France before they were surrendered by their owner. They’re now at a temporary home in France and are waiting to be relocated to the lifetime safety of their new home at our big cat sanctuary in South Africa.
We’d also like to thank every single one of the more than 12,500 of you who sent an email to the French government calling for a national ban on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in France. Around 30 countries worldwide have already introduced bans, and we think it’s time France did the same so that wild animals like Angela, Bellone, Louga and Saïda are free from exploitation.
Thanks to your compassion for these four lions, you are helping us raise the funds needed to fly them to South Africa as soon as we are able to. Unfortunately, because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we do not know when this will be, and it could take some time. We will be unable to move them until all the necessary paperwork is in place, all travel restrictions have been lifted, and it is safe for everyone to travel again. There may also be additional delays resulting from changes to the aviation industry.
Meanwhile, you’ll be pleased to hear that Angela, Bellone, Louga and Saïda are doing really well. Dr Jean-Christophe Gerard, veterinarian at Tonga Terre d'Accueil, says: “All four lions have got through the lockdown period without any problems. All of our animal care staff have been taking close care of the lions and we are very pleased and relieved that, to date, no one at the rescue centre, neither the staff nor the lions, have contracted coronavirus. Nonetheless, we will continue to take precautions, especially because we know big cats can be infected, and this has been a problem for facilities in the USA.
“Now that some of the air travel restrictions in France have been lifted and flight connections between countries are slowly restarting, we look forward to working with Born Free to plan the different steps for the lion’s relocation to South Africa. We are keen to see them arrive safely in the country of their ancestors.”
Earlier this month, Jon, an emaciated lion, was rescued from a circus in France. Working with our partner, French animal rescue charity OneVoice, who co-ordinated Jon’s rescue, and French animal rescue centre Tonga Terre d’Accueil who will be helping Jon with his long rehabilitation, we are so thankful he is now free from further exploitation. Jon is very unwell and has a long rehabilitation ahead of him, but we also hope to move him to a sanctuary when he recovers.
We will, of course, keep regularly updating you on how all the lions are getting on and let you know as soon as we are able to move them. So, please keep following our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube channels!
Thank you for rewriting the stars for Angela, Bellone, Louga and Saïda - and now Jon. You have made a real difference to their lives.
Images: (c) Tonga Terre d'Accueil