An update on the big cats at Born Free’s Jean Byrd and Julie Ward big cat rescue and education centres, in South Africa

Warm greetings from us and the big cats. There has been a lot of rain and we hope there is still more to come.

February was a busy month at the Jean Byrd Centre, with work in the garden, at the centre and, of course, caring for the cats. We were lucky to have help from students participating on the Shamwari Conservation Experience. It was also a busy month for the Julie Ward Rescue and Education Centre, which welcomed a new member on the Animal Care team, Odwa Clay - our new Junior Animal Care Assistant. 

Born Free supporters and staff from the Born Free team based in the UK also visited both centres. 


Our boy Ciam is doing great and growing very fast. His favourite spot is on top of the platform in his enclosure, although sometimes he likes to lie next to his water trough or close to the viewing deck. Sometimes we see him playing with a stick and, when he sees someone watching, he hides his ‘kill’. He has settled in well and seems relaxed in his enclosure.


Leda and Rhea

Leda is still very active for her age and the bond between mother and daughter remains strong. In the day, Leda likes to lie under a needle bush which gives great shade. Rhea loves to hide! We sometimes see her by luck, during security patrols in the morning.



Queen has found a shady spot under a tree where she lies when it’s hot to avoid the heat of the day. She sometimes roars, which seems to encourage Jora and Black to join in. We would love to know what they are saying!



black and jora

Black and Jora

Brothers Black and Jora are always together, they have a close bond. In the mornings they like to be out in the open, and when the sun starts to heat up, they move to sleep in the shade. Some mornings they are very active and play and chase each other. 



Nelson the lion


We are pleased that Nelson continues to do really well. You can see he looks very healthy. He is very vocal – often roaring in the mornings.


Achee and Sinbad

Achee & Sinbad

Achee and Sinbad are always around each other, they share a close bond. They are often seen rubbing their heads against each other – these are priceless moments.


Lions and Lioness

Jerry, Maggie and Sonja

Here they are together. All three lions look stunning! Even after all these years the Born Free cats still take my breath away, every day or week there is something new they will share. They amaze me.  


Sami and Alam

Sami & Alam

Alam and Sami enjoy the privacy of the vegetation and hiding out of sight, as leopards do. I see them appearing out of the trees and bushes. Here they are by the water trough, having enjoyed a drink.


Brutus and Marina

Brutus and Marina

At 18 years old, Brutus is enjoying a slower space of life nowadays. Marina is very gentle with him and always grooms him in a comforting manner. 



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