Archive for December, 2010

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

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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


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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

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