Watch: lion cubs rescued in France freed in SA

Posted by Elise Kirsten on 7 November 2019

Four lion cubs, believed to have been removed from their mothers before they were weaned and sold illegally in Europe as pets, have been rescued and got to experience the African bush for the first time last month.

The cubs named Horus, Dadou, Thea and Cersei were kept in captivity and rescued from separate locations. According to to the Born Free Foundation they were found in ‘an apartment, a garage, even a Lamborghini on the Champs-Elysées’ by French wildlife charity, Fondation 30 Million d’Amis.

After a successful appeal launched earlier this year, the cubs began a journey on 10 October from Tonga Terre d’Accueil, a wildlife rescue centre near Lyon, with Born Free’s Rescue and Care team to Heathrow Airport in London. The big cats were then placed on a flight to Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

From PE it was a short drive to their new home at Born Free’s Big Cat Sanctuary at Shamwari Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape, where the organisation will provide lifetime care for the four lions.

Head of Animal Welfare & Captivity at Born Free Dr Chris Draper, who lead the cubs’ relocation, said:

‘It all went amazingly well. The cubs are relaxed and inquisitive. It was an absolute joy to see them enjoying natural vegetation under their feet for the very first time – the sounds of other lions, the sounds of African wildlife. It was a long journey, and not an easy journey for the lions, but it’s worth it in the end.’

Shamwari has been home to Born Free’s two Big Cat Rescue Centers for more than 20 years. The reserve’s Group General Manager, Joe Cloete, had this to say about the relocation:

‘Shamwari is delighted to have been part of the rescue of the four cubs and we are really pleased that they are settling in well to their new home with us. The care provided by the team at Born Free along with the expert veterinary services provided by our Dr. Johan Joubert, will ensure that they enjoy the best possible life at the sanctuary.’

Image credit: David Clode

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