What a difference a year makes!


Rescued From a Failing Zoo, Two Lionesses Celebrate First Year at New South African ‘Forever Home’

After being rescued from the miserable conditions in a failed zoo in Southern Spain and moved to the Born Free Rescue Section at Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary, supported by IAG Cargo and British Airways Holidays, lionesses Alpha and Cora celebrate one year in their ‘forever home’. 

Lionesses Alpha and Cora were rescued in 2017 and cared for temporarily at Natuurhulpcentrum, a wildlife rescue centre in Belgium, before Born Free relocated them to the Born Free Rescue Section at Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary in October 2019. The new section at was made possible by Born Free’s partner British Airways Holidays who supported the building of Alpha and Cora’s new home in South Africa. Whilst Alpha and Cora were the first lions to arrive, it is hoped that the area will provide a safe haven for many more rescued big cats in the future. 

The move was also supported by Born Free’s corporate partner IAG Cargo, who provided the flights from London to Cape Town, ensuring the speedy and safe transit of the lionesses. Since arriving at their new home, Alpha and Cora’s overall wellbeing has significantly improved, and the pair seem very content in their new surroundings. Now enjoying their golden years, they can finally put their previous life in the zoo behind them. 

Born Free’s Animal Rescue and Care Manager, Maggie Balaskas, who travelled with the lionesses on their journey to a new and better life, said: “It is strange to think that this time last year Alpha and Cora had just arrived at their new home, it only feels like yesterday we were preparing for their life-changing journey. All of us at Born Free are delighted that Alpha and Cora have a safe and peaceful place to live out the rest of their years, and it is heart-warming to see them content and doing so well. 

“We are extremely grateful to IAG Cargo who carefully looked after the lionesses on their journey to South Africa, and to British Airways Holidays for providing the essential support we needed to establish the Born Free Rescue Section which allowed us to rehome these two lionesses.”

John Cheetham, Chief Commercial Officer at IAG Cargo, said: “We were delighted to have supported Born Free with the relocation of Alpha and Cora, it brings us much pleasure to see the lionesses thriving one year on. 

“With IAG Cargo’s global connections we are a trusted partner for many of the world’s most prestigious animal charities – and we’re committed to supporting the protection of endangered animals. Our Live Animals product has moved countless protected species to facilities around the world, but every shipment is unique and it’s always heart-warming to see how they progress.”

Claire Bentley, Managing Director at British Airways Holidays, said: “It is wonderful to hear that Alpha and Cora have settled in so well, and we are thrilled that British Airways Holidays was able to help facilitate their forever home. Our important long-term partnership with the Born Free Foundation underpins and supports our award-winning animal welfare policy and we look forward to our continued collaboration on future projects like this one.”