After their long journey from France to South Africa, and yesterday’s excitement of being introduced to their new home, the Lions of Lyon – Horus, Dadou, Cersei and Thea – have spent a peaceful first day and night at our big cat sanctuary at Shamwari Private Game Reserve, in South Africa.
I was lucky enough to visit them earlier this morning and it was great to see them all finding their feet. Yesterday, they understandably showed signs of nervousness, but today they all looked much more relaxed.
When I reached their enclosure, Thea and Cersei were both sitting outside soaking up the early morning sunshine. Horus and Dadou had chosen to make themselves comfortable inside their night house.
According to Glen Vena, Born Free’s Animal Care Manager who oversees the care of our big cats, all the cubs were drinking regularly and had eaten well. They had also spent a lot of time exploring – regularly using the door in and out of their night house, listening to the sounds of the African bush, and showing interest in the other big cats at the sanctuary.
Jean-Christophe Gerard, the head vet at French wildlife charity Tonga Terre d’Accueil, who has cared for all four of the cubs since they were rescued, and has therefore developed a close bond with them, was also happy with their progress. He told me they looked relaxed, comfortable and were showing no signs of stress.
This is incredibly encouraging considering their previous lives as exotic pets. This time last year, Horus and Cersei were both being kept illegally as pets. And just 11 months ago, Dadou was found in a Lamborghini in central Paris. If they had not been rescued from this cruel, selfish and unnecessary trade, the Lions of Lyon could be living a very different and uncertain life today.
At Born Free, we believe that wild animals never make good pets because they have complex needs that can never be met in a domestic environment. You can find out all about our work and join in our campaign for legislation to reduce or, if possible, end the keeping of wild animals as pets here.
Images: ©Filip Fortuna/BFF