We are extremely sad to share the news that Major, one of our precious rescued lions who lived at Ensessa Kotteh, our wildlife centre in Ethiopia, passed peacefully recently due to old age.
Seen here with his brother General, Major was one of three lion cubs found by soldiers in the Bale region of southeast Ethiopia in early 1998. Sadly, one of the cubs, a young lioness, died shortly after being found. But Major, along with his brother, General, then lived in a small, rusty cage in the army barracks for the first 13 years of their life, until Born Free rescued them.
In 2011, the army asked the Ethiopia Wildlife Conservation Authority for help and Born Free was asked if we could take the lions into our care. In November of that year, in a dramatic operation following a very successful fundraising appeal, Major and General arrived at our wildlife sanctuary. Huge fierce lions, they had massive black manes but, as you can see from this picture, they transformed amidst the peace and space of Ensessa Kotteh. Enveloped with expert care and love, the brothers thrived in their grassy enclosure, lying beneath shady trees as they affectionately groomed each other, exploring the dense undergrowth, or roaring loudly as they patrolled their territory and declared their presence.
Major and General lived together until, very sadly, General died in 2018 – after a short illness. Major clearly missed his brother, but gradually recovered his spirits. Such a strong character at Ensessa Kotteh, he could often be seen stalking rodents and pouncing (unsuccessfully) at birds who dared to land in his enclosure! Despite all he had undergone, this magnificent lion never lost his wild instincts as a natural predator.
Major will be missed by us all, especially our Ensessa Kotteh team, who cared for him so diligently over the past 12 years. Hard as it is to say goodbye, it is a big source of comfort to know he enjoyed so many years of contentment with us. Rest peacefully dearest Major. Thank you for reminding us that the wellbeing of every single lion matters.