Born Free undertakes its biggest relocation of rescued lions in 35 years
International wildlife charity Born Free is set to undertake its biggest lion relocation to date after the rescue of not one, but four lion cubs from captivity in France to a life in a sanctuary in South Africa!
The four cubs – Horus, Kuuma, Dadou and ‘Girl’ who is yet to be named – are only a few months old, and are believed to have been taken from their mothers before they were weaned. They were rescued from lives facing terrible suffering, and were found to be battling various ailments.
The cubs were each all found in different locations across France, being kept as pets in completely inadequate conditions:
Dadou was found on Paris’ most famous street – the Champs-Elysées – in the back of a Lamborghini. His owner was caught taking photos with the cub by police officers. Dadou, is missing the tip of his tail, and is thought to be about seven months old. When he was found, he had weak hind legs, but has now recovered. Dadou’s legal case is waiting to go to court.
Horus is the largest of the four cubs and is about seven months old. He was found in reasonably good health on a child’s bed in an apartment on the outskirts of Paris. His owner, who was hiding in a neighbour’s cupboard when Horus was found, had posted images of the cub on Snapchat. He was sentenced to six months in prison for illegally keeping a wild animal.
Kuuma was found in a garage in Marseille on the same day as Horus. She was very unwell and underweight, with a skin irritation, dull coat, gastrointestinal problems and corneal ulcers. Now thought to be about seven months old, Kuuma has since recovered, but her eyes are being carefully monitored. Her owner has been prosecuted and the case is waiting to go to court.
‘Girl’ is the smallest and youngest of the cubs at about five months old. She was surrendered by her owner and was very unwell. She had glaucoma, and was underdeveloped and underweight, with extreme hair loss and diarrhoea. ‘Girl’ is now doing much better – her hair has grown back and she is slowly gaining weight. Her legal case is ongoing.
While the team at Born Free may never know the full story as to how these poor animals ended up being kept as pets, it is thought that the cubs may have originated in travelling circuses.
Thanks to the intervention of the French authorities and Born Free’s partners Fondation 30 Millions d’Amis, the cubs have now all be transferred to a safe location near Lyon while they await their transfer to Born Free’s big cat rescue centre at Shamwari Private Game Reserve in South Africa. There they will receive lifetime care in a safe, spacious and enriching environment, surrounded by the sights and sounds of Africa.
“The tragic stories of these cubs are the direct result from the appalling and continued demand for wild animals as ‘pets’ and in circuses. These four cubs face a happier future in our care, but we must also work to stamp out the trade in wild animals as pets and bring to an end the use of wild animals in circuses once and for all,” said Dr Chris Draper, Head of Animal Welfare & Captivity at Born Free, who is overseeing the relocation of the cubs to South Africa.
The charity is now urging the public for donations to help make this rescue as success with the cost of relocating the cubs set to reach up to £60,000, let alone their lifetime care of at least £9,000 per year, per lion cub.