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A Roaring Success: Six lions to start a better life in LIONSROCK

© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

July 31, 2014 - Six lions who were recently transferred from a Dutch rescue station to the Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK in South Africa, are said to be settling in well and enjoying their new lives under the African sun. The formerly captive lions, all of whom had previously led miserable existences in zoos or circuses in Europe, were transferred, about a month ago, to LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa.


LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary, which is owned by FOUR PAWS, allows these lions to enjoy a life which is more in line with what nature intended for them.



Kongo, Nora and Neida – formerly performed in a circus

The impressive, eleven-year-old Kongo and his sisters Nora and Neida, had previously been forced to perform in a circus show. Nora, the most courageous of the three, was the first one to explore her new home, but was soon joined by Kongo and Neida. Kongo, who was known to show a little aggression and unsettled behavior from time to time, when initially rescued, is now much calmer and more self-confident in LIONSROCK. He patrols his new territory regularly and is thriving in the role of leader of his pride. During their adaptation period, the three lions are staying in an area of about 2 1/2 acres. Eventually, they will move into an even larger outdoor enclosure.


Simba and Pregan – the German lions born in a zoo

Pregan is relaxing in his new home.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

Simba and Pregan, both seven years old, were born in a zoo in Germany. Pregan has no mane as a result of being castrated as a young lion. During their adaptation period, the two big cats will share an outdoor enclosure of about 54,000 square feet at LIONSROCK.


The FOUR PAWS team at LIONSROCK is already reporting that Pregan appears to be very calm in his new environment and unconcerned with the other lions. His sister Simba, on the other hand, shows special interest in the other lions in the neighbouring enclosures. She explores the borders of her enclosure eagerly and has already made her first attempts to roar.


Hildegard Pirker, Chief Animal Keeper at LIONSROCK and Head of the Animal Welfare Department, says: “This is a good sign, as our experience has shown that our lions truly feel at home in LIONSROCK when they first join in the daily roaring concert of the resident lions.”

The lioness Simba is enjoying the South African sunset.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

Gypsy, the Romanian lioness, needs special treatment

Lioness Gypsy, originally came from a run-down Romanian zoo, rescued by FOUR PAWS  in 2009. The thirteen-year-old big cat has shortened bones and cannot walk properly, therefore, she has received a near 27,000 square foot enclosure close to the LIONSROCK medical clinic. Despite the encouragement of her Dutch animal care taker, who accompanied her on the transfer to South Africa, Gypsy was hesitant to explore her new home for the first four days after her arrival. However, she finally ventured out and has developed a daily routine which includes walking up to the border of her enclosure and greeting old lioness Suga, who lives in the neighboring enclosure. The warm and dry climate in South Africa is very good for Gypsy’s health. She also receives special medication with her food every day.


e lioness Gypsy, has shortened bones and needs special treatment
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

Six lions on their way to LIONSROCK

© FOUR PAWS | Karen Jansen

Last year, FOUR PAWS International was asked for help by a Dutch big cat center. The facility was much too small for the big cats living there, and as well, was in a rather desolate state in general. With the help of our FOUR PAWS donors, the living conditions for these animals has dramatically improved over the past 10 months. Still, even with the improvements that we have made there, the newly named FELIDA Big Cat Recue Center cannot compare to the more natural habitat that can be provided at LIONSROCK.


That is why, with a team effort spanning continents, we have been able to move six lions to their new forever home in South Africa.  Simba, Gypsy, Kongo, Neida, Nora and Pregan - all either rescued from zoos or circuses, have begun their new lives in LIONSROCK. For the first time in their lives, they will realize, truly, what a lion’s life is all about. 


While the happy ending for these six lions is wonderful news, we cannot forget about the hundreds of big cats that still live in cramped concrete cages, throughout North America and Europe, never knowing the feeling of grass beneath their paws.  LIONSROCK is now home to over 90 big cats, but it is our goal that big cats across the globe will know the joy and contentment that Simba, Gypsy, Kongo, Neida, Nora and Pregan now feel each day.

It seems like Kongo is already awaiting his new life in South Africa
© FOUR PAWS | Karen Jansen

Flight to Johannesburg

Early bird-flight to Johannesburg.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

Our six big cats Simba, Gypsy, Kongo, Neida, Nora and Pregan, have departed from FELIDA and have started their journey to South Africa. After some final vet checks, the lions continued their journey, from Shipol International Airport to Johannesburg, where they are expected to arrive this evening. In between, some goods news from the veterinarians: The big cats are all in good physical condition. 

LIONSROCK – a lifelonge home for big cats

After extensive research in various countries, FOUR PAWS International decided to take management over an already existing park in the Republic of South Africa, to use as a future Big Cat Sanctuary. LIONSROCK, which is named after the imposing rock formation in the center of the park, has been home to over 90 big cats from all over the world. The park enclosures are huge, each several acres in size.


Now, both the FOUR PAWS and LIONSROCK teams are looking forward to the arrival of the six additional lions, each of which will be provided with a lifelong home in the FOUR PAWS Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK. Hopefully the lions will soon forget about any fear and torture experienced in their prior lives.

© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

Please support us with your donation! Your donation is helping us in offering these amazing animals with years of a better life in LIONSROCK.



The lions arrived safely in South Africa

July 2, 2014 - Yesterday evening, our six lions arrived safely at the International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. Despite the long and exhausting journey, all of them are in good physical condition. Shortly after landing, the lions continued their trip to our Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK. Today, they will be released into their new home, where they - Simba, Gypsy, Neida, Nora, Pregan and Kongo - will begin their new lives as lions in our Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK - safe and sound in a natural habitat, without bars, and under the blue sky. 

The lions have moved into their new homes

Today, the rescued lions, formerly living in zoos or circuses, were released into their new, species-appropriate home in the FOUR PAWS Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK in South Africa.

Sometimes, a look says more than a thousand words.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

The six lions, Gypsy, Simba, Nora, Neida, Pregan and Kongo, will stay in the FOUR PAWS Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK for the rest of their lives. 

Kongo is slowly daring to take the first steps into his new home
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

In 2006, FOUR PAWS decided to take over the existing park LIONSROCK in the Republic of South Africa. Massive structural changes had to be made to the area in order to bring it up to FOUR PAWS´ rigorous quality standards. Today, LIONSROCK is a lifelong home for rescued big cats. Each animal is living in huge areas - several acres in size - in which freedom of movement is provided.

Finally: A huge jump into a species-appropriate life.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

Despite the long journey to South Africa, the lions were in good physical conditions when they arrived at LIONSROCK. The FOUR PAWS and LIONSROCK employees have been looking forward to their six newcomers and could not resist to catch this moment for eternity with their cameras. 

The new stars of LIONSROCK have just arrived.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

FOUR PAWS founder, President and CEO, Heli Dungler, did not miss the chance to travel to South Africa as well, to welcome the six lions into their new homes. 

FOUR PAWS founder Heli Dungler is watching Kongo's first steps closely.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

After several steps into their big new enclosures, you could already see that the lions, formerly held in zoos or circuses, were comfortable with their new homes. 

After the long flight some exercise is just perfect.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

Please support us with your donation! Your donation is helping us, offering these amazing animals a better life in LIONSROCK, for years!