Four lions – Bellone, Saïda, Angela and Louga – have spent nearly all their lives in a travelling circus. They were kept in cramped beastwagons, constantly on the move, and forced to perform night after night for so-called entertainment.
They were surrendered by their owner and are temporarily being cared for at Tonga Terre d'Accueil, a wildlife rescue centre in Lyon. With your help, we will relocate them to our big cat rescue sanctuary at Shamwari Private Game Reserve in South Africa, where they will receive lifetime care in a safe and spacious environment.
At Shamwari, the lions will continue to live together and share an enclosure. They are happy in their established group and interact well, so we would not want to separate them. They also provide each other with companionship, which is important as lions are highly social animals. Their lives will be further enriched by living in a spacious bush enclosure and being able to experience the sights, smells and sounds of Africa. A life away from their existence in the circus.
Their days will be spent enjoying the peace and tranquillity at Shamwari and watching the local wildlife. They will be able to explore their spacious environment, observe their surroundings from a viewing platform, sleep under a shady tree, socialise with each other or hide in the bushes if they want some privacy. They will have neighbouring lions at the sanctuary, who will no doubt greet them each morning with a roar.
Bellone, Saïda, Angela and Louga will have a long journey to South Africa, but the team will be on hand to ensure they are safe and made as comfortable as possible. The lions will also be introduced to their traveling crates beforehand so they can become familiar with them. It’s always difficult to predict how animals will behave when being transported, but based on their behaviour so far, and their experience travelling with the circus for many years, we hope they will travel well and hopefully remain fairly calm throughout. They will be monitored by our expert team and checked by a vet at every stage of their journey.
Initially, we expect that life will seem a little strange for these lions when they first arrive at Shamwari, but once they have settled in, we are sure they will enjoy their well-deserved retirement and hopefully the horror of the circus will become a distant memory.