MEET OUR BIG CATS!

Born Free’s two big cat sanctuaries at Shamwari Private Game Reserve are home to lions and leopards rescued from appalling captive conditions around the world. 

They have come to us from zoos and circuses, or from private homes where they were kept as pets. The nature of their background means they would be unable to fend for themselves if released into the wild, so they are given expert, lifetime care in a spacious, safe and natural environment.


BLACK

DATE OF BIRTH: 9th June 2007     
ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: 27th September 2015
SANCTUARY: Jean Byrd

Black was rescued by Born Free from a cramped circus trailer in Bulgaria, after the country banned the use of wild animals in circuses. Black travelled from Bulgaria to our big cat sanctuary in September 2015 with his brother Jora.

WILD ANIMALS IN CIRCUSES     WATCH BLACK'S RESCUE


BRUTUS

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated 2001
ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: 27th April 2008
SANCTUARY: Julie Ward

Brutus was confiscated from Cirque Vitalis, a circus in France, where he lived in a two-metre cage. He was rehabilitated at Le Refuge de l’Arche, a wildlife rescue centre in France, before arriving at our big cat sanctuary in April 2008.

WILD ANIMALS IN CIRCUSES


CERSEI

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated September 2018
ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: 11th October 2019
SANCTUARY: Jean Byrd

Cersei was rescued from a garage in Marseille, France, where she was being kept illegally as a pet. She was very unwell and underweight; with skin irritation, a dull coat, gastrointestinal problems and corneal ulcers. She was rehabilitated at Tonga Terre d'Accueil, a wildlife rescue centre in Lyon, France, before moving to our big cat sanctuary in October 2019 as part of a joint relocation with Horus, Dadou and Thea.

WILD ANIMALS AS PETS     WATCH CERSEI'S JOURNEY TO SHAMWARI


CIAM

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated September 2014
ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: 5th May 2017
SANCTUARY: Jean Byrd

Ciam was rescued from a cage in a garden in southern France in November 2015 where he was being kept illegally as a pet. Ciam was rehabilitated at Natuurhulpcentrum, a wildlife rescue centre in Belgium, before journeying to our big cat sanctuary in May 2017.

WILD ANIMALS AS PETS     WATCH CIAM'S JOURNEY TO SHAMWARI

DADOU

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated September 2018
ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: 11th October 2019
SANCTUARY: Jean Byrd

Dadou was rescued from a Lamborghini sports car on the Champs-Elysées in Paris, France. He was being kept illegally as a pet and his owner was taking selfies with him. The tip of his tail was missing and he had weak hind legs because his muscles had not properly developed. He was rehabilitated at Tonga Terre d'Accueil, a wildlife rescue centre in Lyon, France, before moving to our big cat sanctuary in October 2019 as part of a joint relocation with Horus, Thea and Cersei.

WILD ANIMALS AS PETS     WATCH DADOU'S JOURNEY TO SHAMWARI


HORUS

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated September 2018
ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: 11th October 2019
SANCTUARY: Jean Byrd

Horus was only two months old when he was rescued from an apartment in the suburbs of Paris, France. He was being kept illegally as a pet and found sat on a child’s bed. Horus was rehabilitated  at Tonga Terre d'Accueil, a wildlife rescue centre in Lyon, France, before moving to our big cat sanctuary in October 2019 as part of a joint relocation with Dadou, Thea and Cersei.

WILD ANIMALS AS PETS     WATCH HORUS' JOURNEY TO SHAMWARI


JERRY

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated 2001
ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: 2nd August 2007
SANCTUARY: Jean Byrd

Jerry was rescued from a zoo in Buhusi, Romania, in 2007 with his mother and brother. The family were given a home at our big cat sanctuary.

WILD ANIMALS IN ZOOS


JORA

DATE OF BIRTH: 9th June 2007
ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: 27th September 2015
SANCTUARY: Jean Byrd

Jora was rescued by Born Free from a cramped circus trailer in Bulgaria, after the country banned the use of wild animals in circuses. Jora travelled from Bulgaria to our big cat sanctuary in September 2015 with his brother Black.

WILD ANIMALS IN CIRCUSES     WATCH JORA'S RESCUE


KING

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated July 2017
ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: 6th July 2018
SANCTUARY: Jean Byrd

King was rescued from an apartment on the outskirts of Paris, France, by French wildlife charities Fondation 30 Million d’Amis and Refuge de l’Arche. He was being kept illegally as a pet in a small, dirty cage. King was rehabilitated at Natuurhulpcentrum, a wildlife rescue centre in Belgium, before making the journey to our big cat sanctuary in July 2018. 

WILD ANIMALS AS PETS     WATCH KING'S JOURNEY TO SHAMWARI     ADOPT


MAGGIE

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated May 2006
ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: 22nd January 2015
SANCTUARY: Julie Ward

Maggie was confiscated from a circus in Germany, with her sister Sonja, where they had been living in a cramped trailer. They were rehabilitated at Natuurhulpcentrum, a wildlife rescue centre in Belgium, before moving to their permanent home at our big cat sanctuary in January 2015. 

WILD ANIMALS IN CIRCUSES     WATCH MAGGIE'S JOURNEY TO SHAMWARI


MOWGLI

DATE OF BIRTH: 7th October 2018
ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: April 2020
SANCTUARY: Julie Ward

Mowgli was rescued from Bloemfontein Zoo in South Africa, when the zoo was closed following a number of animal welfare infringements. Working with our friends at Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary and Bloemfontein SPCA, Mowgli was rescued with another leopard called Zeiss, and given a lifetime home at our big cat sanctuary in April 2020. 

WILD ANIMALS IN ZOOS     ADOPT


NELSON

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated January 2000
ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: 5th May 2017
SANCTUARY: Julie Ward

Nelson was rescued from Parc Zoologique du Bouy, France, in April 2015 by French animal rescue charity Fondation 30 Million d’Amis when the zoo fell into liquidation and the owner was arrested for wildlife trafficking. He was rehabilitated at Natuurhulpcentrum, a wildlife rescue centre in Belgium, before journeying to our big cat sanctuary in May 2017.

WILD ANIMALS IN ZOOS     WATCH NELSON'S JOURNEY TO SHAMWARI


RHEA

DATE OF BIRTH: 28th January 1998
ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: 2nd May 2009
SANCTUARY: Jean Byrd

Rhea was born in Limassol Zoo, in Cyprus. She was rescued from Limassol with her mother Leda following a long-running campaign for it to be shut down, led by Born Free’s Co-Founder Bill Travers. The Mayor of Cyprus gave permission for Rhea and Leda to be given a new home at our big cat sanctuary.

WILD ANIMALS IN ZOOS     ADOPT

SAMI

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated March 2001
ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: 5th July 2001
SANCTUARY: Julie Ward

Sami was found abandoned in the Sudanese bush with his brother and sister in 2001. Thought to be just four months old and with no sign of their mother, they were given a new home at our big cat sanctuary.

ADOPT


SONJA

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated May 2006
ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: 22nd January 2015
SANCTUARY: Julie Ward

Sonja was confiscated from a circus in Germany, with her sister Maggie, where they had been living in a cramped trailer. They were rehabilitated at Natuurhulpcentrum, a wildlife rescue centre in Belgium, before moving to their permanent home at our big cat sanctuary in January 2015. 

WILD ANIMALS IN CIRCUSES     WATCH MAGGIE'S JOURNEY TO SHAMWARI

THEA

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated November 2018
ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: 12th October 2019
SANCTUARY: Jean Byrd

Thea was being kept illegally as a pet in France, but was surrendered by her owner in January 2019 when she was just eight weeks old. She had glaucoma, was under-developed and underweight, with extreme hair loss and diarrhoea. She was rehabilitated at Tonga Terre d'Accueil, a wildlife rescue centre in Lyon, France, before moving to our big cat sanctuary in October 2019 as part of a joint relocation with Horus, Dadou and Cersei.

WILD ANIMALS AS PETS     WATCH THEA'S JOURNEY TO SHAMWARI


ZEISS

DATE OF BIRTH: 10th January 2014
ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: April 2020
SANCTUARY: Jean Byrd

Zeiss was rescued from Bloemfontein Zoo in South Africa, when the zoo was closed following a number of animal welfare infringements. Working with our friends at Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary and Bloemfontein SPCA, Zeiss was rescued with another leopard called Mowgli, and given a lifetime home at our big cat sanctuary in April 2020.

WILD ANIMALS IN ZOOS     ADOPT

IMAGES: © George Logan, © Filip Fortuna

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