It is vital to the work at LIONSROCK that lions raised in captivity shake adopted stereotypical behaviour in favour of following their natural instincts. For the six new arrivals, this process appears to have started smoothly.
A REAL sanctuary...Lionsrock
The biggest adventure of their lives has already taken place: the six lions from Eastern Europe that arrived at FOUR PAWS big cat sanctuary LIONSROCK in late October have lived through the tiring journey to South Africa in good health. They are now safe from harm and can rely on excellent conditions for recovering from the horrors of their youth. Two confiscated lions that were kept illegally by private owners in Bulgaria and four former zoo lions from Romania were transported to Zurich airport and then flown to Johannesburg. They have now begun to settle in at their new home. Two young females, Lea and Kara, were released into a joint enclosure due to their biographical similarities.
The immediate joining of Lea and Kara was an unusual step since the two animals did not know each other. Given their background and age, the team is confident that they will bond quickly. Lea has the disadvantage of having had her claws pulled by her previous owner, which she compensates by growling at Kara whenever she approaches. Kara takes these signs of insecurity lightly, though, which reassured experts on site that the pair will be a very good match. Eventually they will be joined by Simona, who currently inhabits an area of her own. The hand-raised lioness needs to build up on her self-confidence before being socialised. Once they all lost their initial unstableness, preparations will go underway for grouping them in one enclosure. Social bonding is important for lions – and for weaning them from human contact.
Two residents of Lionsrock
The Slatina family reunion
Bonding did come natural for the other threesome in the October transfer: the two males and one female from Slatina / Romania are related. Because they were kept apart from each other at the dysfunctional zoo they were born into, there was some uncertainty about how they would react to their release. One male had a history of aggression, but showed none of it when he exited the transport crate and started exploring his territory. He immediately recognised the female that was released after him as his mother – as well as his sibling who came last. The threesome did not eat on the first few days, but took up on it once their nervousness had passed. All of the new arrivals have started eating in the common time frame and are showing rapid progress in their settling in. It is vital to the work at LIONSROCK that lions raised in captivity shake adopted stereotypical behaviour in favour of following their natural instincts. For the six new arrivals, this process appears to have started smoothly.