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Fire at LIONSROCK: All lions are safe


Flames under control after two hours

At the FOUR PAWS big cat sanctuary LIONSROCK a fire has broken out, which appears to have been caused by grinding work at a construction site. The dry bush grass was soon ablaze – a frequent cause of big fires in South Africa. The LIONSROCK staff reacted quickly and efficiently, organising support from neighbouring farms and fighting the flames near the adaption enclosures, where nearly arrived big cats are usually being monitored. Even though the evacuation of lions was being prepared, the all-clear was given after about two hours when the situation was under control.

LIONSROCK is fully equipped with fire fighting gear and all staff are trained in using them properly. The local Fire Committee was informed and remained involved, even though no aerial support was available at that particular moment. In spite of the long distances in this rural area near the town of Bethlehem, neighbours arrived quickly to lend a helping hand. The surrounding farmers had been sceptical of the LIONSROCK project when it was set up in 2007, also due to negative media lobbying by the canned hunting industry. But by now, relations are cordial and LIONSORCK is firmly integrated into the local community. The current construction work is aimed at expanding the options for offering a new home to more lions in need of help in derelict zoos in Romania and elsewhere.

Expansion works to resume shortly

In spite of the frequency of such incidences in South Africa, a thorough investigation into the exact origins of the near-disaster will take place immediately, now that the fire has been put out. Damages to the construction site have to be assessed quickly, as the new enclosures are urgently needed. For the moment, everyone on site is relieved that fire-fighting operations were successful thanks to the involvement of 16 workers, staff members and neighbours, and that the evacuation of the enclosures and lodges has been prepared so efficiently. Due to the LIONSROCK staff executing the emergency plans attentively, the effort to get the expansion works back on track can start today.