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A roaring success as six rescued lions settle into their new lives in South Africa


© VIER PFOTEN / Mihai Vasile

Six lions that were recently transferred from a Dutch rescue station to the Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK in South Africa are said to be settling in well and enjoying their new lives in the African sun. The formerly captive lions, all of whom had previously led miserable existences in zoos or circuses in Europe, were transferred to the LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa, owned by FOUR PAWS, around a month ago to enjoy a life more in line with what nature intended for them. Since their release into the huge outdoor enclosures the sanctuary has to offer, the lions are said to be settling in well in their new environment.

Kongo, Nora and Neida – formerly performing in a circus

The impressive, eleven-year-old Kongo and his sisters Nora and Neida had been forced to perform in a circus show before they arrived at the rescue centre FELIDA, which FOUR PAWS took control of about a year ago.  The siblings previously shared an enclosure in the rescue centre and will also stay together at LIONSROCK. Nora, the most courageous of the three, was the first one to explore her new home, but was soon joined by Kongo and Neida. Kongo was known to show from time to time aggressive and unsettled behaviour in the small confinement at FELIDA. However, he is now much calmer and more self-confident in the larger adaption enclosure in LIONSROCK. He patrols his new territory regularly and is thriving in the role of leader of his pride. During their adaption period, the three lions are staying in an area of one hectare; afterwards they will move into an even larger outdoor enclosure.

Simba and Pregan – the German lions born in a zoo

Pregan is relaxing in his new home.
© VIER PFOTEN | Mihai Vasile

Simba and Pregan, both seven years old, were born in a zoo in Germany and transferred to the rescue centre FELIDA in 2012. Pregan has no mane, a result of being castrated as a young lion. For the adaption period, the two big cats will share an outdoor enclosure of 5,000m² at LIONSROCK.

The FOUR PAWS team at LIONSROCK is already reporting that Pregan appears to be very calm in his new environment and is not agitated easily; his sister Simba on the other hand shows special interest in the other lions in the neighbouring enclosures. She explores the borders of her enclosure eagerly and has already made her first attempts to roar. Hildegard Pirker, chief animal keeper at LIONSROCK and Head of the Animal Welfare Department, says: “This is a good sign as our experience has shown that our lions finally feel at home in LIONSROCK when they first join in the daily roaring concert of the resident lions.”

The lioness Simba is enjoying the South African sunset.
© VIER PFOTEN | Mihai Vasile

Gypsy – the Romanian lioness needs special treatment

Lioness Gypsy originally comes from a run down Romanian zoo and was brought to the rescue station FELIDA in 2009. The thirteen-year-old big cat has shortened bones and can not walk properly. Therefore, she has received a special care enclosure of 2,500 m² near the clinic in LIONSROCK. Despite the encouragement of her Dutch animal care taker, who accompanied her on the transfer to South Africa, she did not leave the indoor enclosure during the first four days immediately after her arrival. However, she finally came out and has developed a daily routine since then of walking up to the border of her enclosure and greeting old lioness Suga who lives in the neighbouring enclosure. The warm and dry climate in South Africa is very good for Gypsy’s health and she receives special medication together with her food every day.

The lioness Gypsy has shortened bones and needs special treatment.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

LIONSROCK – a lifelonge home for big cats

The six rescued lions now join the other 86 lions and tigers that have all been rescued from turbulent conditions and now call LIONSROCK home.


Encouraged by the progress the lions are making so soon after their arrival at LIONSROCK; FOUR PAWS will be improving the situation of the big cats remaining in FELIDA and plans are in place to transfer other big cats to LIONSROCK in the future.