Golden Pride of rescued lions

#GoldenPride happy together in their bigger enclosure

10 lions rescued in the biggest big cat rescue in South Africa


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It has been three months since the pride of ten lions were rescued by FOUR PAWS and rehomed at the LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in Bethlehem, South Africa. This was the largest big cat rescue operation undertaken by FOUR PAWS within the country and was made possible with the generous support and donations of the public, as well as the successful collaboration with authorities.

The FOUR PAWS team arrived on site on 10 November last year. After an inspection, and medical check-ups, the ten lions were darted and taken to LIONSROCK in crates on trucks. FOUR PAWS took immediate contraception measures when the team was on the facility’s site in Gauteng on all females by way of hormone implants administered during anaesthesia before loading for transfer to ensure that there is no further chance of breeding which is against the values of a true sanctuary.

The rescue of the ten who are now called the #GoldenPride, is close to the heart of the Director of FOUR PAWS, Fiona Miles, who was instrumental in the negotiations to give the lions a forever home.

Fiona is delighted to see how well the lions have settled into their new home, noting that they have a playful appearance as a pride.

Lions form the Golden Pride

FOUR PAWS was requested by the authorities early in 2022 to assess the lions as their home then, a Gauteng breeding facility, did not comply with fencing and various other permit requirements and the facility continued to breed with the lions despite warning to the contrary. A compliance notice was issued to the breeding facility before FOUR PAWS took over the lions.

The facility was given various chances to comply with permit regulations by authorities, but to no avail. Should the LIONSROCK relocation solution not have been found, the authorities may have had to euthanise the animals. The facility from where the lions were relocated from will not be issued again with permits to keep lions.

LIONSROCK staff members have worked tirelessly to make sure their new home was suitable for them. Fiona says it is reassuring to see the animals now comfortable and happy in their new home.

“It is incredible to see how well they are responding to their new environment.  They are calm and have a relaxed demeanour.”

Fiona Miles, Director of FOUR PAWS

Three lionesses from the Golden Pride

The three males and seven females have each been given a name while in their adaption enclosure where they were kept while they found their feet. There are three males called Kali, Rudo and Sandile and seven females called Kimi, Dandi, Sarafina, Sihle, Zuri, Zendaya and Khaya.

They were released at the end of December into a bigger enclosure where they can now happily climb trees, play in the long grass as well as the small marshland in the enclosure.

The so-called Fabulous Four, two eight-year-old sisters Khaya and Sarafina, and two six-year-old males, Rudo and Kali, are usually the ones leading the way in the enclosure. They can often be found playing or lying on their favourite ridge to keep a keen watch on their neighbours.

Fiona points out that their former keeping at the facility was a point in case that it is difficult to monitor compliance in the captive lion breeding industry and all the more important to bring an end to breeding facilities.

“I am so grateful they now have a safe forever home to live and play. By relocating the #GoldenPride we are one step closer to #BreakTheViciousCycle of big cat exploitation.”

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