born free big cat sanctuaries

Partnership with Virginia McKenna's
Born Free Foundation

In partnership with actress, author and wildlife campaigner, Virginia McKenna’s Born Free Foundation, Shamwari Private Game Reserve designed the Animal Rescue and Education Centres to incorporate the sanctuary and educational facility. Their goal is to create awareness of the horrific way in which wildlife is exploited in captivity around the world. The centres aim to draw attention to the plight of wild big cats, confined in impoverished, captive environments throughout the world.

A Worthy Cause

Over the years the Born Free Foundation has been able to rescue several big cats from impoverished situations. Born Free focuses on promoting the conservation of species and the protection of habitat whilst maintaining a humane and compassionate approach to the welfare of animals.

The Born Free Foundation is a registered charity organisation and therefore solely relies on donations. No entry fees are charged, but a monetary donation is appreciated. The rescue and education centres home rescued lions and leopards from across the world and aim to be an enlightening experience for all visitors.

Take Time to Explore

Visit one of our centres for an eye-opening encounter.

The Julie Ward Centre

Situated in the south of Shamwari Private Game Reserve, the Julie Ward Centre opened its doors on the 30th of September 1999 in memory of Julie Ward, a young British photographer who was murdered while visiting Kenya.This Centre provides enclosure for rescued big cats.

The Jean Byrd Centre

The Jean Byrd Education Centre and Sanctuary opened its doors on the 5th of November 2006, and provides educational facilities for schools whilst also providing further enclosures for more rescued big cats.

It’s situated in the north of Shamwari Private Game Reserve.

The Education Programme

An active programme for schools and colleges with a particular aim to support local disadvantaged communities with the focus on conservation through education.

A Global Partnership

The Born Free Foundation is a UK-based wildlife charity that rescues animals from captivity and gives them lifetime care in spacious sanctuaries. The charity protects threatened species including lions, elephants, tigers, gorillas, wolves, bears, marine turtles and much more in their natural habitat. Working with local communities, Born Free finds humane solutions to help people and wildlife live together without conflict.

More Information

Since its inception in 1984, it has grown and been backed by celebrities, conservationists and passionate institutions worldwide, such as Shamwari Private Game Reserve. By supporting the big cat sanctuaries, you’re not only learning about the plight of wild animals, but you’re also taking a stand against animal cruelty.

Our Success Stories

Every animal in our care becomes part of the Shamwari family and we continue to follow their story wherever they go.

Shamwari's King

King loving life in his forever home

This brave lion has gone from strength to strength since arriving in July. Odwa and Headman are his primary caretakers at the sanctuary. They care for him


Welcome Home, King

The much-anticipated release of King the lion cub was everything we had hoped it would be and more. Little King leaped out of his travelling crate and into his


Born Free launches appeal to rehome King the lion cub to South African sanctuary

King was kept illegally as an exotic pet in a Paris apartment International wildlife charity, Born Free, has launched an