Born Free, in partnership with Shamwari Private Game Reserve, operates two sanctuaries within the Shamwari Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, for lions and leopards rescued from zoos, circuses and other captive facilities.
Our first sanctuary opened in 1996 in the south of the reserve and enabled us to rehome two lions and a leopard rescued from their tiny cages on top of a Tenerife restaurant, where they could only take one and a half paces in each direction. The following year, thanks to the generosity of the family and friends of young naturalist, Julie Ward, tragically killed in Kenya, an education facility was built in her memory at our sanctuary. This allows local children to learn about their own wildlife and about the suffering wildlife can endure in captivity.
The second sanctuary, The Jean Byrd Centre was completed in 2006, thanks to a wonderful donation from South African supporter Jean Byrd, and other generous sponsors.
The bush enclosures at Shamwari give the lions and leopards the space and privacy they so desperately need. Visitors are permitted but are confined to one viewing platform at each enclosure.
Our team at Shamwari Big Cat Sanctuary provide updates on how the rescued big cats are doing, check back here for their latest news.