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FOUR PAWS in action for Dutch lions and tigers


Help for destitute sanctuary for big cats in Friesland

The international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS started work for a destitute sanctuary for big cats in Dutch Friesland. At Stichting Pantera, there are currently eight lions, sixteen tigers, a black jaguar, a leopard and a leopard cat. Most of the big cats come from run-down circuses or zoos in several European countries.

© VIER PFOTEN | Barbara van Genne

Stichtung Pantera has existed for about twenty years in the village Nijeberkoop in Friesland. Although the foundation can be thanked for the number of animals that were saved from death, the sanctuary has obtained a bad reputation among animal lovers. Problems accumulated, and a low point was reached in 2011 when a planned move that was supposed to turn the tides for the sanctuary, was cancelled. A new management was installed and the foundation succeeded in continuing to take good care of the animals, however the enclosures were in poor condition, and money to buy the necessary means was unavailable. Also the problems from the past kept haunting the sanctuary, and the water was up to their lips when they called FOUR PAWS for support.


FOUR PAWS has years of experience with the housing and care of wild animals, such as bears, lions and tigers, and runs the Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK in South Africa. The knowledge and expertise on this area, and the wish to help the animals at Pantera, resulted in the decision of FOUR PAWS to come into action. Better times have arrived for all big cats in Friesland. “First we will work on the welfare of the animals by improving the keeping as much as possible, given the limited space, and getting the enclosures ready for the winter”, explains Ioana Dungler, project leader at FOUR PAWS. “On a longer term, we want to bring some of the animals to our Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK in South Africa. There the animals can live accordingly with their natural needs.”


For some of the animals, the survival of the cold winter in Friesland will be a challenge because of their age and health problems. In the coming months, FOUR PAWS will work hard to improve the conditions of the destitute Pantera.