Animals, like all living creatures, need to stay in their natural habitat.
These creatures thrive best in a familiar environment, whether it be land, water, or air. They get the best food for their health and growth, and they are at the right temperature to keep them safe and healthy. If they are in known territories, it also coincides with their knowledge of their predators and kicks in their survival instincts.
However, this is not true for many animals all over the world.
Many animals are caged and bred in captivity. You see most of them in zoos, amusement parks, or aquariums. Others keep them as pets even if they are meant to be free in the wild. And when humans do this to animals, humans, too, should take action to bring them back to where they belong.
Gladly, this is the happy-ending story of these four lions bred in captivity.
Angela, Bellone, Saïda, and Louga were born and bred in captivity. They spent their whole lives going around France and performing for a circus company. They were forced to perform and do tricks in front of loud, noisy crowds.
Their living conditions were far from ideal.
They are cramped up in cages as the circus moves from one place to another. Who knows what they were fed, but we bet they didn’t get the best nutrition either.
All four lions were rescued by Born Free Foundation in 2018.
The foundation started to raise funds to transport these lions back to South Africa. Other animal welfare foundations and partners, like Lazy Lions, gave specialized care for these big cats.
Unfortunately, the journey wasn’t easy for them due to COVID.
The pandemic stunted their plans and pushed them back a couple of years. However, the foundation saw this as a chance to help the animals recover, gather more donations, and prepare for the transfer. During the pandemic, the lions stayed in a rescue center in France. But the plan was always to bring them to their homeland.
And in 2022, the lions finally went to a sanctuary in their homeland.
It was a long journey from France to South Africa, where they will stay at Shamwari Private Game Reserve. They are still in an enclosed area, but they are freer to move around a three-acre lot.
Lions bred in captivity are not fit to be sent out directly to the wild.
But the reserve is a good transition as they slowly adjust to their new environment. According to Born Free Manager Catherine Gillson:
“The sights, sounds, and scents of their fellow rescued big cats will heighten their senses immediately as they begin to acclimatize to their new lives. They are now in their forever home in Africa,” she told BBC News.
You can see in the video how they move cautiously out of their cages.
They took small steps and sniffed the air before they went out. The royalties of the jungle ran freely yet took time to smell the land and plants around them. Angela, Bellone, Saïda, and Louga are now home. And it was all thanks to the beautiful humans who valued the life of these lions.
Check out a video about the lions’ rescue below!
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I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.