ROMANY AND GYPSY are in Holland. Read about them on my website www.laurasimms.com and see videos of before and after.

Today, we need to continue to provide support, care and food.
$250 per month. And $800 for indoor heaters. Europe is freezing.

Click here to select a method of contributing

Welcome to our new Lions Roar Blog –

The reason we began this blog is to let our friends and donors remain informed about the lives of the animals that have been rehomed by the Lions Roar.  You can read about us on our website http://www.thelionsroar.eu    We plan to update whenever we have news.  Please subscribe so you can read our pages.

The Lions Roar is a small international charity that is dedicated to improve the lives of animals worldwide in captivity.  Our main endeavor since 2002 has first to improve a zoo, and then when the zoo closed because it was not up to the EU standards in Romania, we set out to rehome and save the animals that would have been left to starve.   Our LionsRoarBlog is a blog of hope and transformation. You will read about our two disabled lions who are living a much improved  life in the Pantera Zoo in Holland;  about the mother and son lions that thrive  in South Africa; a partially blind lioness named Bella, our beloved heroine, who is flourishing in Malawi; the five bears rehomed in a wildlife park in Brasov Romania, including a blind Tibetan female in her special enclosure;  about dogs, cats, doves, goats and horses that were rescued; and our two baboons whose once miserable lives have been turned around in a better zoo in Romania where they live side by side with other baboons and released of the agonizing humiliation of daily mistreatment, filthy surroundings and loneliness.

Some of the  that we plan to tell are about the owls and turtle, the roosters and goats that all lived in Buhusi Zoo and the people who visited them. Part of our story is about the amazing resilience and heart of animals. Part of the story is about the aftermath of Communism and Holocaust and how it effected a once wealthy community that had a zoo once adored. And Part of the story is about the difference that we can make as caring human beings because or your support and compassion. We have great partners and friends worldwide. Our circle of astonishing people expands all the time.


We dedicate this blog to all the children in Buhusi who used to come to the zoo to help us feed and care for the animals and who we hope are sleeping through the night knowing that the animals have new  homes.

some of the children in buhusi had lives that were not much better thanthe animals they tried to help.  Their generosity and joy was inspiring.


And of course, there are many animals over the years who never made it and those are tragic tales but worth the telling as well.


We hope you will love seeing our creatures and reading about their new lives.
Laura, Jane, Sue and Alina


Romany and Gypsy in Holland, 2013

Romany and Gypsy in Holland, 2013

Bella in Malawi 2013

Bella in Malawi 2013









Every month we receive  updates and photos of the lions who were saved/moved from the ongoing misery of the Buhusi Zoo in Romania by our dedicated team and Born Free.   The zoo was small. The number of lions saved, compared to those who are in need in the world, is also small. But to keep telling their stories  encourages others to remember the unnecessary and heartless cruelty that animals (and human beings ) endure. And how powerful it is to bear witness to their  beauty and resilience when they  are released from pain into a healthy life. Every success story is an  act of liberation and importance. It is a  transformation for  the world/   Bella in Malawi  (above right) whose loving nature is appreciated now, plays and walks on grass. The memory of concrete and rusting fences, tragic death of mate and cub, inadequate food and filth, is we hope disappeared.     Jools and Jerry, mother and son, wander in a sanctuary together on green grass overlooking mountains. And, our beloved  disabled lions, Romany and Gypsy, destined for euthanasia,  grow more beautiful in their home in Holland. There presence in the world is a victory.  Their capacities to flourish and thrive in a caring environments is inspiration for us human beings as well. It is good to share the new photos with you.   We want you to l pass them on to others to see what is possible. The wilderness is shrinking. The devaluation of the natural world is frightening.  But, these animals call out for all the others.  Collaboration between human beings and animals  make the world more bearable.    They need  our support. We can not forget them.  Look at them. It is up to us to stop the rampant slaughter of wild animals for greed and blood lust pride.

Please go to our HELP page if you can donate something for the care and food and medical aid for Romany and Gypsy.  Their story is the most poignant since no one wanted to risk taking disabled lions across Europe, until The Sanctuary in Holland took a huge leap and with incredible kindness brought them out of captivity into life.  Lions Roar is still responsible for supporting their care.  We need your help.


Jerry and Jules, 2013

Jerry and Jules, 2013

Here is the update news from Shamwari South Africa about Jerry and Jules:


The Two J’s,  tend to keep to themselves and not interact with us.  Jerry was terrified of people in Buhusi zoo and while he is not nervous now, they both keep their distance.  I noted that Jerry was smelling Jools under her tail, but she stopped it very fast and gave her large, powerful son a smack on the nose.  He got the massage loud and clear.  

During feeding Jools will always take food first and Jerry will back off …. I’m just imagining if that was Brutus, he would go ballistic!  Much as Brutus loves his mate, Marina, he would never let her take the meat first, we have to separate them for feeding.  Not so with Jools and Jerry.  Jerry loves his mum and will groom her now and then, and you can see she really enjoys it.


Every time I see photos of Jools and Jerry I feel a  soar of joy!   They grow more noble and beautiful every year that they spend in their new home in South AFrica.  Visions of them in the Buhusi Zoo, walking hungry and frustrated back and forth in a cramped concrete cage,  or eating rotten chicken left out in the heat or frozen in the snow, seem unbelievable.  How can such beautiful creatures be starved and caged for someone’s warped pleasure?   And yet, throughout the world, animals are still kept in  devestating and degraded conditions .. left to suffer.. so we can watch them as if the unbearable and unnatural sight of wild animals in horrifying conditions provides inspiration.  What does it inspire in us?  Do we become numb to our own capacity for joy and natural radiance, liberation and compassion, when we visit a zoo that is not kept?    As if a terminal prison with prisoners who were not guilty are condemned  offers us a false vision of our own safety.  It feeds our darkest fears and renders us heartless.  I can not help reflecting this morning on the police attacks during last night in Occupy Spaces throughout the US or covert military operations murdering scores of people. Let the dignity and brilliance of Jools and Jim feed our strength, kindness, pride in liberation and inspire us to make sure that our children, our animal relatives and each other, stranger, enemy or friend are given the chance to live with peaceful heart.  Take a look at these photos just recieved from Born Free!

Jools and Jim remind me to not give up.Here they are..  and with a small report from BornFree.


This time I couldn’t get a picture of them together as I usually do. They just wanted to spend time hanging in different places. They are doing well together, still no fighting over food. Jerry is a bit lazy these days I think this heat is slowing him down, he comes slowly after Jools to get his food. Jools as usual she is always excited running after the vehicle she loves her food and she eats well.

We would love your comments.   And don’t forget that donations are still needed to pay for food and medical care for Romany and Gypsy who are in a refuge in Holland. the only place that would house and care for our two beloved disabled lions who are now flourishing. R and G are lovers. They have cared for each other since being caged together when abandoned, malnourished, and sold to the zoo by the photographers who no longer found them cute for tourists.   Read about them too. 

Report from Tehree Gordon at Jirrahlinga – June 2011

Both dingos are in small, cosy enclosures at Jirrahlinga as it was felt they would need to develop their trust in humans and learn to feel secure in their new home. They are able to see each other but have not yet been re-introduced to each other; it has been some four years since they were separated from the main group, following a series of serious fights which resulted from several females being enclosed with just one male at Buhusi Zoo. Lena suffered some nasty bite wounds at this time and it may have been during one of these that she finally lost the complete sight of one eye.

Janis has been the one to settle first and is coming along in leaps and bounds. She plays readily, jumps all over her handlers and acts like a young puppy. She has been taken for a ride in the car and down to the river, although she is yet to realise that water can be fun. I am hoping that Monty, (a little dingo pup that was very sick last year) will teach Janis to swim. Janis, however, is still anxious with sudden noises and does not like people rushing her (strangers); but that is normal dingo behaviour anyway. Janis is starting to mix with some of the younger dingos but this is being addressed with caution as this time is currently dingo breeding season and hierarchy can still play a big part, whether the dogs are deseeded or not. But she has certainly made progress from the anxious dingo which constantly circled her spartan rescue cage at Pathera in Holland, when the Lion’s Roar team last saw her.

Lena is the older of the two dingos, and was the more seriously traumatised when she arrived in Australia. She is slower at coming around and now takes food out of her keeper’s hand – especially chicken necks and wings – although now these are fresh and not still frozen! She has graduated from beef and will now eat anything offered to her – a sign of her growing trust in her handlers. Lena does not like strangers and knows her selected few contacts and greets them eagerly on their arrival.

Lena will never be as confident as Janis but we all believe she has suffered more than Janis in the past. All she knew in her past were angry, threatening voices and tools used as weapons, as her Buhusi keepers had no understanding of dingo behaviour and expected her to react like a domestic dog. But with lots of love and care, I am determined she will never know hurt or raised voices again. Lena is now becoming very friendly with one of our older dingoes and we hope they will eventually become companions; she also likes two of the younger dingoes. Lena now understands she is loved and has responded well for an animal who has known such torture in her past.

My plan is to use a Buddhist monk volunteer who works with some of the most traumatised animals at Jirrahlinga, so that, when the timing is appropriate, he can work to calm her anxieties and help with the introductions to develop a small dingo pack. When this is accomplished, it is expected that the group will move together to take up permanent residence at the designated Dingo Sanctuary in Castlemaine, in a larger group enclosure.

I cannot thank enough the team of Lion’s Roar volunteers who worked so hard to bring some love and quality of life to two forgotten creatures, and highly recommend that any support be given to carry on such work so that our heritage does not become a history of forgotten species. My special thanks to Linda Mira-Bateman who handled all the necessary paperwork with the Australian authorities, without whose assistance the dream of bringing dingos back to their roots would not have been possible.

Tehree Gordon

Bella sits on her favourite path at Lilongwe

As one of the Lion’s Roar team which first alerted Born Free to the appalling conditions at Buhusi Zoo in Romania, which had been Bella’s permanent home until 2009, I was eager to see how Bella was faring at Lilongwe in Malawi. I applied to assist as a volunteer at the Wildlife Centre for 2 weeks in July, which would enable me to do something useful and see Bella in her not-so-new surroundings! I was impatient to see her as soon as possible and Jez, the Volunteer Programme manager, was only too happy to oblige.
My first reaction was to cry with relief! Bella looks fantastic – healthy, content and so much at home in her huge, tree-filled enclosure, that I can’t imagine what she makes of the changes in her lifestyle! In Buhusi, she only ever had cold, concrete (and filthy) flooring under her feet; at Lilongwe she sunbathes on a bed of fallen leaves between the trees or stretches out along the pathway where she is guaranteed to catch a moment or two with every visitor that passes by her enclosure. Although her eyesight is poor, her senses of smell and hearing are acute, and she sniffs the air regularly, and listens for any signals of approaching guests. She is so well-loved at Lilongwe – she features prominently on leaflets and posters – and visitors adore her because they are guaranteed to see her up close, as she relishes having company, and will welcome visitors by rubbing along her fence in greeting. Her life couldn’t be more different than the miserable existence she had in Romania.

The management and carer team at Lilongwe are determined to make things even better for Bella. An ever-expanding enrichment programme is being developed, with a new ‘toy’ or ‘interest’ being used for her enclosure every day. I stitched several sacks from locally available hessian sheeting while I was there, which can be stuffed with a variety of fillings, such as straw and leaves, and smeared with smells which will delight a lioness – prey droppings, catnip spray or lavender oil for example! Two other volunteers, Tanya had her son Oliver, had carried a bowling ball in their luggage for Bella to play with! She loves her back-scratching brushes too, although a large part of Bella’s entertainment with these is the challenge of pulling them off the trees as swiftly as she can!! Hmmm… one still to be perfected!! And Bella now has a popsicle (ice lolly) each week, sometimes with treats hidden inside, or flavoured with the blood from her fresh meat food. The objective is to encourage Bella to use and become more accustomed with the complete area of her enclosure, as it is felt she may be a little reticent to leave the more familiar parts of the space due to her limited eyesight. But hopefully, she can be encouraged to roam around more freely as she investigates her new playthings.

One morning during my stay we left a stuffed sack, smeared with duiker poo, just along her pathway, after we had cleaned the indoor enclosure. As soon as the door was re-opened, her head was raised high as she sniffed the air and she made her way over to investigate the new scent. She immediately grabbed the sack and headed off into her forested area, pausing occasionally to push the sack around and paw at its contents. She moved it around to several different places while we were watching, to our delight, as it certainly encouraged her to use a larger area than she does regularly. When I went in to retrieve the sack next day, in the hopes of refilling it with something different for the next time, there was very little of it left intact – which was actually even better than we hoped! Although it means a constant supply of bags will be needed, she obviously had spent several hours pulling it apart!!
Bella has now trimmed down a little, following the vet’s instructions, and this it is hoped, will assist her movement which is slightly hampered by her poorly-formed hind legs, caused by her previous care in Romania. Certainly she appears to be blissfully relaxed in her surroundings, and the one addition we would like to see for her would be a companion for permanent company in, or next to, her enclosure. But that’s the next project for Bella….!!

Romany and Gypsy were saved by Pantera Sanctuary in Holland. We had all but given up all hope of their not being euthanized in Romania. It is our miracle really knowing that these two lovely creatures, who existed in the most harsh and unkind conditions are now having a healthy and caring life with proper food, affection and medical care. the condition that pantera requested was that we support them until Pantera moves to its new much improved home. At last that home is being built. WE have only one more large payment for our two beloved lions, Romany and Gypsy. With all the demands on so many people to bring help into the world for so many causes, we consider them a special and worthy case. Romany and Gypsy are disabled lions. They are however not emotionally disabled and have had a love affair that continues to move us. Their survival is wonderful and for the children that will meet them and hear their story it is a symbol that no one is to be thrown away or seen as unworthy of love and care because they are different. PLEASE HELP US RAISE 1000 Euro. To see Pantera’s new building – http://www.pantera.nl/verhuizen/paginas/de_bouw.php

check out our website to make donations and to see pics of R and G

The pleasure of seeing our two lions in Shamwari becoming more and more beautiful and healthy is always worth sharing… From Born Free …

Jools and Jerry resting in their home in Shamwari

Romany and Gypsy can be seen in this beautiful photograph in Holland where they now live for the first time having good care and grass to laze in and platforms to rest on and see the world.

In 2002, Romany and Gypsy were in a deplorable filthy cage with rusted bars. The outside ground was uneven concrete and inside had never been cleaned. The water left for them to drink was nearly empty and had a ferocious smell. The lions were disabled:with weak spines and legs turned backwards. Their coats were unkempt and dull. They seemed old, listless and distressed although at the time they were very young. I was horrified to see the uneducated caremen at the Zoo in Buhusi, Romania mock them or kick them without hesitation. It was heartbreaking. Perhaps they took out their own frustration and poverty on these two easy victims.

From time to time over the years this incredibly loving couple, male and female lions, would move beside each other for comfort. I had the sense that the only thing that kept them alive was their unbiased affection. And as we improved the cages placing heaters indoors for winter warmth, improved food and cleaned the cages, they looked much better. But we always feared they were in unbearable and familiar ongoing pain.

As the years passed , I saw them gain dignity as Jane and Sue offered them bags of hay with lavender that they loved to play with and we started putting some grass and hay in their cages. When the three lions who shared the adjacent cages left for South Africa, Born Free opened up the entire space for them and created new platforms for them to stay dry. They started to walk and some times run when ever Alina, our in country partner, visited them. She would call their names and they would charge across the cage. But still they were imprisoned in painful bodies and a far too small enclosure with brutal winters.

by 2007 we had Large tree trunks for scratching placed in the concrete to withstand their scratching, and new ramps allowed them to enter the inside area which had been cleaned and fresh water supplied. But the Zoo legally closed and no one thought it was worth rehoming the two disabled creatures. The options were either let them starve or have the caremen euthanize them. Both horrible deaths.

Watching their palpable pleasure in mutual affection, it became obvious that they were not in awful pain and that they adored one another. With a better diet their dulled eyes had begun to brighten and their coats were starting to look less weathered and tattered. We insisted that they not be shot or cruelly euthanized! Through some miracle, Pantera Sanctuary in Holland agreed to take Romany and Gypsy across Europe in a van and give them a chance…… if they survived the journey.

There are so many details to this story that would take hours to describe. But the fundamental story is one of faith and a kind of miraculous strength of love that they shared which inspired us all. Somehow we had the sense that they understood that we were going to keep them alive so they could have a life beyond Buhusi. As they journeyed, Jane, Sue (my partners in Lions Roar) and Alina in Buhusi were sleepless. We arranged Reiki from three continents in hope it would bring them comfort. We were concerned that we had destined them to an excruciating trip from which they would not survive. They arrived in tact. For the first time in their lives, the two lions had an indoor area that would be kept clean, a grassy outdoors, appropriate food, experienced care that knew about lions and medical help. Their conditions could not be changed, but with medical care their lives have improved tremendously.

Over the months Romany and Gypsy began to thrive. Their coats are now thick. They have recieved medical help as much as possible and good nutrition. They have had the quiet of a sanctuary rarely visited so that no one stares at their bodies or insults them. And they have healed. If you look at the photo of them above, you can see their basic satisfaction. If you look on our website you can see where they came from. There is a slide show of how they looked in Buhusi.

Lions Roar has a special arrangement with Pantera since they took the two lions as an act of mercy and kindness, and a raw faith in saving animals that did not deserve to suffer. We are still paying for their food and medical care and will continue to until Pantera moves to its new expanded territory. At that time the lions will have a much larger and more sophisticated habitat with more space to roam and the cost will no longer be ours. But we are committed to Romany and Gypsy. If you look at their photos and read about them, you might fall in love with them the way we have.

We are still for donations, large or small, to help us pay for their food until Pantera moves to another larger and better equipped area. . Please go to our pages and read more about them.
Please donate and help us keep our lovers happy!! See our HOW TO HELP PAGE ON THE BLOG


Every so often Trish Holford of Born Free sends us updates about our two lions from Buhusi, Jools and Jerry, a mother and son, who are living at the Shamwari Lion Sanctuary in South Africa.

When I first arrived in Buhusi, Romania two male lion cubs had just been born. They shared two small concrete adjacent cages with their mother and father, an aging male lion named Bette. He was the father of most of the lions that had been born in Buhusi. At 25 years of age, Bette died. We watched the tiny cubs grow until it was painful to see them with their mother, all full grown lions in a small space. Even with only three they hardly had any extra room.

However, they were always curious about us when we visited, particularly when we approached quietly and slowly. It was the site of Bette, his noble and sorrowful face, living a life of captivity in the worst of conditions, that inspired me to begin the Lions Roar in 2001. At the time the only consolation was that a science teacher named Mr. Gheorghiu who was also aging with Bette loved him dearly and visited him every day. After his death the cubs now the size of their mother Jools would come to the cage bars and watch myself and the children who were helping me clean the zoo. (there were nearly 30 sometimes as many as 86 Roma kids from the nearby suburb of Buhusi called Le Colonie who spent weeks of their summer at our summer camp sponsored by Ovidiu Rom.

In 2008 Born Free arranged for the two boys and their mother to travel to S. Africa. It has been both a blessing, and a bit of a sad story. The second brother died a year after his arrival. We were grateful that at least he had that time with his family in an open meadow and hillside on green grass with bushes to hide in! We have recieved reports and are sharing them now on the blog!!!

Here is our news for the day:

Jools and Jerry

Rescued from Buhusi Zoo in Romania

Jools’ skin condition is looking good and she is healthy too. These two spend most of their time sleeping in the shade or under the acacia bushes grooming each other when it’s warm. Jerry is doing well, always glued to his mum. It’s really good to see them relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. These two have a large appetite and they really like their food, especially Jools. You will see her with saliva running out of her mouth. Jerry always stands at a distance waiting for Jools to take her food first and then he would come and take his.

Jools and Jerry lazing around with full bellies after being fed (Photo to come)

Laura Simms

Dingos returned to Australia

The two female dingos, Lena and Janis, are now in a beautiful sanctuary in Australia with long runs and good food and lots of dingo company. They are being slowly detraumatized in a deeply personal way and brought to health and what we are assured is a happy future. This is a near miracle.

We will keep you updated on their progress as we receive news.  Several weeks ago, Tehree Gordon began their new training, sleeping beside them and slowly gaining their trust after their many years of mistreatment in Romania. We are waiting for photos and will post a whole gaggle of news and pics as soon as we receive them. But we are assured that they are making great progress.

The hope is that in the months to come they will not only get to walk on grass and soil, but become part of a dingo pack and begin the rest of their lives in their ancestral land.

Before Lions Roar happened upon the devestated Buhusi zoo fallen on terrible times in Northern Romania, there were twelve dingos kept in awful circumstances: overcrowded, filthy, concrete, bad diet and no appropriate care conditions. I watched them shiver from the cold in the winter and fear of the caremen and visitors who fed them junk food and threw things at them. In the spring I watched them sit outside on wet concrete staring at a grassy meadow or across the road at five lions who paced and cried in hunger.

Now thanks to Tehree and her amazing team of dingo carers, Lena and Janis are undergoing a process of inner and outer transformation so they can join a dingo pack and live a more natural life. The dingos in Buhusi never dug in the the earth or ran on grass. They lived in overcrowded circumstances. These outback creatures were condemned to freezing winters and hot summers with inadequate water. The two girls are now in Jirrahlinga Wildlife Sanctuary! Previously they were the two rejected and abused canines from the two groups of dingos. The two other surviving dingos were taken by a different and (hopefully) improving Romanian zoo, but our girls were left in small cages, seperated and howling. They were maimed and depressed.

When Pantera Sanctuary generously offered a home to our two disabled lions, the sanctuary’s owner also took pity on the dingos and rescued them in temporary accomodation in Holland. It was a long drive across Europe and a difficult transition. Unfortunately, although they had better food and medical care, Pantera was unsuitable for dingos on a permanent basis and could not give them the rehabilitation they needed. Sue and Jane fought to find a way to send them home to Australia. If you read about them on our website you can find out about the amazing Australian ladies, Linda and Tehree, who stepped up to help us and the emotional journey they took.

For us to receive news that they are allowing human beings to feed them, so they can recieve medical help and relearn how to enjoy their lives without trembling fear is the most astonishing and joyous news.

We hope you will love seeing our creatures flourish,

Laura, Jane, Sue and Alina
four women and four continents of care