Two years of gruelling hard work has got us to Africa with our rescued lions – the 33 from circuses and Peru and Colombia are home in their native land. Enjoying more space, trees, grass, bushes and sun than they have ever experienced in their lives, they will never suffer again.
I am sitting at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in Limpopo, South Africa as our 33 lions roar into their second sunset in the African bush. They are in their large bonding camps, separate fenced rooms with their usual companions. In these camps they will come together again as families, we can complete dental surgeries and procedures to prevent breeding will be completed, and more. As each group becomes ready, they will be released into their 2.5-5 acre enclosures, allocated by size of pride and needs (for example our elderly and special needs individuals will have smaller enclosures). It will take at least 12 weeks before the first families move out to live forever in their own piece of the African bush. They’ll return to their bonding camps each day, to be fed and can also be monitored.
Phase II of the build, the remainder of the habitats are being completed over the coming months. We’ve built roads into the bush, power lines, electric fencing, gates, spring-fed water ponds. We must raise a further $150,000 to finish the rest of the habitats for our 33 lions saved from lives of desperation and suffering. They deserve their chance for a peaceful life under the African sun.
Junior here, is enjoying the African bush – seeing our lions rub up against their first tree, walk through the shrubs and grass of Africa for the first time, has been stunning. A huge privilege to be here to see their world expand.
The passionate support and enthusiasm of the public across Latin America, Africa and worldwide has been truly overwhelming. We are so grateful that so many have supported this rescue and been willing to speak for the individual lions we have been so determined to give their chance of happiness – on their behalf, thank you – the Cusco family: Rey, Kiara, Smith, Amazonas, Mahla and Scarc. The Huarrals: Leo, Muñeca, Coco, Chino, Rolex, Africa, Kiara2. Brothers Rey and Simba Ayachucho. David and Rapunzel, Arequipa. They Huancayos: King, Junnior and Ricardo. The Limas: Liso, José and Joseph. The Bucaramanga, Colombia family: Barbie, Bollilo, Bumba, Junior, Easy, Shakira, Iron, Ojiclaro and Zeus.
So many helped with the cost of the flight – $10,000 per lion – special thanks to Bob Barker and DJ&T Foundation, Greater Good, Oakland Zoo, Spurlino Foundation and Bannerman Foundation, Dr Lo Sprague and Rev Dr Gwynne Guidbord and so many others – you all know who you are – who gave so much to give life and a future to these wonderful lions. Thank you all.