King is our latest big cat rescue. He resides in our Jean Byrd Big Cat Rescue Centre and Sanctuary in the North of the reserve.
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 deeply and are pleased with his progress thus far, bearing in mind King naturally is a bit guarded due to his harrowing start to life.
King’s story is still being written, and although he had an unforgiving start to life, he is in the wonderful care of the Born Free Foundation at Shamwari Private Game Reserve.
Last week I went to visit King to see how he’s enjoying life in his natural spacious enclosure. It was a warm day with temperatures just below 30°C. King was lying in the shade of some bushes keeping a keen eye on Jora and Black, his lion neighbours. As we approached he curiously walked towards us.
King had his attention focused on Odwa as he spoke to him in a caressing and calm tone. It’s clear that he is fond of Odwa and this was lovely to see. The Born Free staff members at Shamwari care immensely for these rescued big cats and tend to them daily, making sure they are well looked after.
How King is Loving Life
King then flopped down right in front of us. He was looking around, not at all bothered by our presence. A few butterflies flew past and that caught his attention as he watched them flutter around him. He then mustered a great big yawn and started panting as the heat of the day was upon us. It didn’t seem to bother him too much. He got up and chose a different spot on the grass, posing and relaxed, allowing us to get a few snaps.
Odwa tells us that every morning King climbs to the top of his jungle gym and has a look at the view that surrounds him. Being a youngster, he has bouts of energy where he playfully jumps into his water hole. He loves water and it will help to keep him cool in the upcoming summer months. King has settled into his new home at Born Free quickly and has shown unique character.
This handsome lion has captured the hearts of many with his incredible story and still captures the hearts of guests every day with his piercing brown eyes. He was a victim of the exotic pet trade, a sad reality for many wild animals. Thankfully for King, he has found a forever home in this sanctuary. A place which is as close to how it would have been for him in the wild. We hope, one day, he will be introduced to a companion.
Shamwari Private Game Reserve and the Born Free Foundation provide King and a number of other rescued lions and leopards with refuge and a safe environment to live, free from harm and cruel hands. Our two sanctuaries currently house African big cats from around the world, giving them a second chance at life.