At last, the Lions of Lockdown have arrived safely at their forever home in South Africa. Thanks to the generous help of our supporters, Angela, Bellone, Saïda and Louga can soak up the sun amidst the peace of our sanctuary in Shamwari, having journeyed 9,000 miles by plane and lorry from their temporary home in Lyon, France.
But their story doesn’t end there....
Did you know Angela, Louga and Saïda are now aged 14, while Bellone is 16? We hope they’ll enjoy many years of happy retirement in our expert care. However, looking after just one lion is a huge financial commitment, and we’ve taken on four more! So we urgently need your help.
Born into captivity, they were each sold as cubs from one French circus to another, and for years they were constantly on the move, forced to perform unnatural tricks in front of noisy crowds – music blaring, lights flashing. Their only home was a rusty trailer, with barely room to turn around.
They were rescued from this miserable, deprived existence, with the help of YOUR kind support for our 'Goodbye to the Circus' appeal. But their story didn't end there.
The generosity of our supporters in 2020 meant we successfully raised funds to move the four lions - rescued from appalling conditions in a circus - from their temporary home in France. But then, COVID hit and, like many of us, they’ve been endlessly waiting for their real lives at our sanctuary in South Africa to begin, ever since. We all know how lockdown has felt, so you can imagine their frustration.
It’s been a long and frustrating wait for the four, currently being cared for at a halfway house at Tonga Terre d’Accueil, France. But, at last, the lions can get ready to go to their Forever Home in South Africa – the next best thing to the wild.
A gift to our 'Lions of Lockdown' appeal today will help give Angela, Bellone, Saïda and Louga (who is represented with a bronze sculpture in our Born Free Forever exhibition) the enriched, loving, care for life they deserve. Because, like you, we believe the well-being of every single lion matters!
Your donation will support the Lions of Lockdown’s move and long-term care. Where donations exceed the target, or after the appeal has closed, they will support our vital work to help lions and other wildlife worldwide.
*Warm thanks to our friends at Lazy Lions for already sponsoring one year’s care for two of the lions, Louga and Angela. Could you or your company do the same?
Saïda and Louga on the day they were rescued from the circus
At Shamwari, their crates will be opened and the four lions will feel Africa’s soil and grass beneath their feet for the first time. They can explore their spacious three-acre bush enclosure, full of grassy plains, shady trees and dense undergrowth. A world away from their shocking former lives.
Together, let’s give the four the lifetime home they deserve, surrounded by the sights and sounds of wild Africa.
The logistical feat of re-locating four adult lions cannot be underestimated. Many hundreds of hours of work from the experts and specialists at Born Free and our valued partners at Tonga Terre d’Accueil and Herport in France, Qatar Airways Cargo's WeQare programme, Shamwari Private Game Reserve and Pride of Africa Wildlife Solutions in South Africa, have gone into ensuring the safety, comfort and security of the lions, at every stage of their journey.
Born Free would like to officially thank their partners and the many people involved at every level. We are particularly grateful to our friends at Lazy Lions who have generously donated to cover a year’s specialist care for Angela and Louga, and also sponsored a lion in our Born Free Forever exhibition in London, as part of our Year of the Lion celebrations. We are also very grateful to Company of Animals for providing storage for one of the travelling crates being used in the relocation.
“We are making our final preparations for the lions’ momentous move. How I long to go with them to South Africa… Thank you for helping us transform their lives.
“Our sanctuary at Shamwari will be 25 years old on 29th March, having first opened in 1997. Very poignantly, that is the same date that my husband Bill died, back in 1994. In his memory, this year we celebrate Born Free’s Year of the Lion, the year he would have turned 100 if he had lived.“Bill was courageous and compassionate. He would be thrilled to think of the dozens of big cats we have rescued over the years. I can’t think of a more appropriate way to celebrate our Year of the Lion, and 25 years of Born Free at Shamwari, than to give these four beautiful lions a lifetime home there.”
“Bill was courageous and compassionate. He would be thrilled to think of the dozens of big cats we have rescued over the years. I can’t think of a more appropriate way to celebrate our Year of the Lion, and 25 years of Born Free at Shamwari, than to give these four beautiful lions a lifetime home there.”
Images © Tonga Terre d'Accueil, Andy Gotts