Glen Vena, Animal Care Manager at our big cat sanctuary in South Africa gives his latest update.

At the Jean Byrd Centre in the northern part of Shamwari Private Game Reserve, the upgrades are coming on nicely and all will be ready in time for the arrival of the Lions of Lyon. While the new enclosures are prepared, the animal care team have taken the opportunity to build some new climbing decks and brought in some large old logs for the cats to climb on and sharpen their claws.


Leda (pictured) and Rhea are doing great in their newly refurbished enclosure. Rhea is lively and full of energy. We see her between the thickets or enjoying the sunshine on her platform, and if guests are very lucky, they also get a glimpse of her. 

Leda likes walking around her enclosure, sniffing the air and just taking in everything around her. At first, I thought the contractors working on site might disturb her, but as it turned out, both leopards were intrigued by all the activity. The viewing deck was dismantled recently to build a new improved one and Leda was there all the time watching every move that was made. 

Leda looks fantastic for an elderly cat. We are always aware of her age and pay special attention, but she always proves us wrong – we have a real fighter here!



King is doing really well. He is becoming more private now that he is maturing. Recently, he moved to a slightly larger enclosure with denser thicket at the back, and seems to be enjoying the new sights, smells and sounds. 

He is often on his climbing apparatus watching everything going on around him. He still has his eye on the birds that land in his enclosure, and when his hunting instincts kick in, is quick to jump up and chase after them as fast as he can, but never catches one!



Jora and Black are doing very well and, as always, remain close to each other. Recently, they have been spending time in the far corner of their camp, closest to the sanctuary’s perimeter fence. There are two male lions living in the area, whose territories cross near the sanctuary. They occasionally walk past, and Jora and Black will watch them closely. Jora and Black are equally intrigued by the herds of elephant that often pass by too, they always look and sit up straight when the elephants walk by! 



Nelson is a big favourite with people who visit the sanctuary and, just like Jerry, loves to vocalise. Once Jerry starts roaring as loudly as he can, Nelson, Sinbad and Brutus answer with their mighty roars. It sounds amazing and the reaction from visitors, especially the children, is always ‘Wow!’. Guests staying at the lodges nearby, often receive a wake-up call from Nelson. He still has his shy, reserved nature, but can react in seconds if need be. 


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