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’. Sadly, 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.

Find out more about the big cats in our care.

 

ACHEE

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated 1999

ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: September 2004

CENTRE: Julie Ward

Achee started life in Romania where she was bought by a private owner from a photographer who had been using her as a 'photo prop' for tourists. She lived in a cage in a car park until her owner accepted our offer of a new home for her at our big cat sanctuary. Due to her unsuitable early diet before coming to South Africa, Achee is undersized and unsteady on her feet, but is happy and content. She now shares an enclosure with Sinbad, after being introduced to him in June 2015.

ADOPT     EXOTIC PETS

 

ALAM

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated 2001

ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: July 2001

CENTRE: Julie Ward

Alam was found abandoned in the Sudanese bush with his brother Sami and sister Nimira in 2001. Thought to be just four months old, we gave them a new home together at our big cat sanctuary. Sadly, Nimira died in April 2017, but Alam continues to live happily at Shamwari with his brother Sami.

ADOPT

 

BLACK

DATE OF BIRTH: 9th June 2007

ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: September 2015

CENTRE: Jean Byrd

Black was rescued from a circus trailer in Bulgaria after the country banned the use of wild animals in circuses. Together with his brother Jora, they journeyed from Bulgaria to Shamwari as part of a joint operation, and share an enclosure.

VIDEO     ANIMALS IN ENTERTAINMENT

 

BRUTUS

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated 2001

ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: 27th April 2008

CENTRE: 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, in France, before arriving at our big cat sanctuary in 2008.

ANIMALS IN ENTERTAINMENT

 

CIAM

DATE OF BIRTH: 1st September 2014

ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: 5th May 2017

CENTRE: Jean Byrd

Ciam made international headlines in November 2015 when he was confiscated from a cage in a garden in southern France. Kept illegally as an exotic pet, Ciam had reportedly lived in the cage for seven months after his owner received him from a friend who worked in a circus. Ciam was rescued by French animal rescue charity Fondation 30 Millions d'Amis, and was rehabilitated at Natuurhulpcentrum rescue centre, in Belgium, before journeying to South Africa in May 2017 as part of a joint move with Nelson.

VIDEO     EXOTIC PETS

 

JERRY

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated 2001

ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: August 2007

CENTRE: Julie Ward

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. Sadly, Jerry's brother died in 2008 and his mother later in 2014. To provide Jerry with companionship again, he was introduced to sisters Maggie and Sonja in June 2015 and now lives happily with them as head of the pride.

CAPTIVE ANIMALS

 

JORA

DATE OF BIRTH: 9th June 2007

ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: September 2015

CENTRE: Jean Byrd

Jora was rescued from a circus trailer in Bulgaria after the country banned the use of wild animals in circuses. Together with his brother Black, they journeyed from Bulgaria to South Africa as part of a joint operation, and share an enclosure.

VIDEO     ANIMALS IN ENTERTAINMENT

 

KING

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated July 2017

ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: July 2018

CENTRE: Jean Byrd

King was rescued from an apartment on the outskirts of Paris in October 2017 by French charities Fondation 30 Million d’Amis and Refuge de l’Arche. King was being kept illegally as a 'exotic pet' in a small, dirty cage. He had been beaten and kicked by his owner, who posted images of the abuse on social media. King was rehabilitated at Natuurhulpcentrum rescue centre, in Belgium, before making the journey to South Africa in July 2018. 

ADOPT     EXOTIC PETS     VIDEO

 

LEDA

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated 1990

ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: 2nd May 2009

CENTRE: Jean Byrd

Leda was born in Tel Aviv Zoo, in Israel, and transferred to Limassol Zoo, in Cyprus, when she was four years old. She was rescued from Limassol with her daughter Rhea 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 Leda and Rhea to be given a new home at Shamwari. Leda’s enclosure at our big cat sanctuary is next to her daughter’s.

ADOPT       CAPTIVE ANIMALS     

 

MAGGIE

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated 2006

ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: January 2015

CENTRE: Julie Ward

Maggie was confiscated from a German circus with her sister Sonja where they had been living in a cramped trailer. They were rehabilitated at Natuurhulpcentrum in Belgium, before moving to their permanent home at our big cat sanctuary as part of a joint operation in January 2015. Six months later, they were introduced to Jerry and all happily share an enclosure.

VIDEO     ANIMALS IN ENTERTAINMENT

 

NELSON

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated January 2000

ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: 5th May 2017

CENTRE: Jean Byrd

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. It is unclear how long Nelson was at the zoo, but images of him there in 2008 have been found online. He was rehabilitated at Natuurhulpcentrum rescue centre, in Belgium, before journeying to South Africa in May 2017 as part of a joint move with Ciam.

VIDEO     CAPTIVE ANIMALS

 

QUEEN

DATE OF BIRTH: 10th December 1997

ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: 7th April 2015

CENTRE: Jean Byrd

Queen is an ex-breeding farm lioness who was donated to Sanbona Reserve, in South Africa, in 2003. Sanbona had hoped to rehabilitate and release her into the reserve, but sadly their attempts failed. We offered her a home and she now lives happily at our big cat sanctuary.

LION FARMING

 

RHEA

DATE OF BIRTH: 28th January 1998

ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: June 2009

CENTRE: 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. Rhea’s enclosure at Shamwari is next to her mother’s.

 ADOPT       CAPTIVE ANIMALS 

 

SAMI

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated 2001

ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: July 2001

CENTRE: Julie Ward

Sami was found abandoned in the Sudanese bush with his brother Alam and sister Nimira in 2001. Thought to be just four months old, they were given a new home at our big cat sanctuary and shared an enclosure together. Sadly, Nimira died in April 2017, but Sami continues to live happily at Shamwari with his brother Alam.

ADOPT 

 

SINBAD

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated 2001

ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: August 2007

CENTRE: Julie Ward

Sinbad was used as a ‘photo prop’ for tourists in Romania before being taken to a zoo in Bacau, Romania. Due to a poor diet in his early life, he is half the size compared to other male lions. He was rescued in 2007 and now shares an enclosure with Achee, after being introduced to her in June 2015.

ADOPT     CAPTIVE ANIMALS

 

SONJA

DATE OF BIRTH: Estimated 2006

ARRIVED AT SHAMWARI: January 2015

CENTRE: Julie Ward

Sonja was confiscated from a German circus with her sister Maggie where they had been living in a cramped trailer. They were rehabilitated at Natuurhulpcentrum in Belgium, before moving to their permanent home at our big cat sanctuary as part of a joint operation in January 2015. Six months later, they were introduced to Jerry and all happily share an enclosure.

VIDEO     ANIMALS IN ENTERTAINMENT

 

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