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 spacious enclosure, ready for his new life in South Africa, after a very long journey across countries.
King started his journey on Thursday morning from the Natuurhulpcentrum Opglabbeek, Belgium where he travelled to Heathrow Airport in London and thereafter flew to South Africa. He finally arrived at Shamwari Game Reserve late Friday evening, a long journey for a little lion. The Born Free Foundation team decided it would be in King’s best interests to release him on Saturday morning to ensure that he felt safe and at ease in his new surroundings.
His release was incredible to witness. He was so brave! He felt grass under his paws for the first time in his life and walked around with caution whilst taking it all in. He certainly lived up to his name as he braved this new environment with ease. He courageously paced back and forth matching Jora and Black’s movements who had been watching what all the fuss was about. Jora and Black are King’s neighbours and will undoubtedly be kept on their toes by little King. They roared and made a scene, a fitting African welcome for a little lion cub with a mighty name. It seemed as though they were welcoming King home.
This lion cub will now grow up to become a mighty lion in his ancestral homeland. He will be free from harm and from his dreadful past where he was ill-treated and abused by his owner. Born Free Foundation came to the rescue as King was found in horrendous conditions where he was being kept in a tiny cage in an apartment in Paris. He is now world’s away from those terrible conditions where he will be unconditionally loved and cared for by our expert Born Free team.
King was an innocent victim in the exotic pet trade, a sad reality for many wild animals. However, today was a joyous day as we got to see King’s incredibly heart-warming release into his forever home here at Shamwari’s northern Big Cat Sanctuary. To donate towards King’s lifetime care visit the Born Free Foundation’s website.