Through the eyes of the keepers (blog 16)

Sandra Kuijmans

11 September 2020,


Downstairs at Stichting Leeuw, around the big hall, there are curtains we can close. They are made of sturdy materials, which are urine-resistant (since our animals spray a lot) and can easily be cleaned. These curtains make the daily activities much easier. All inside enclosures are located around the big hall. Thanks to the curtains we can have animals in their inside enclosures and at the same time have animals in the big hall. Without curtains the animals will want to fight each other. They can’t reach each other of course, as there is fencing and a hallway between them, but they might hurt themselves trying. Also, it would give them a lot of stress, which is not good for their well-being. Before we had these curtains, we had to choose: animals in the big hall and the rest outside or animals inside and the big hall empty. Thankfully this is all in the past. We can have things happening in the big hall and at the same time clean outside enclosures or feed animals inside. We can also close animals that don’t want to go outside, off from the big hall. So, if you see curtains closed, it means that there are animals behind them in the inside enclosures, for whatever reason.

Treating and preventing worm infections is something we pay a lot of attention to. This is important when you have so many animals close together. Our colleague Daphne regularly examines scat, so that we can detect new infections quickly. We also deworm all animals twice a year and make sure we disinfect all our cleaning equipment daily. Maybe you’re thinking why don’t you deworm more regularly so you don’t have to do the scat examinations? We prefer not to, for two reasons. The first is that we try to do everything in the most natural way possible, so we don’t want to give unnecessary medication. This makes scat examinations very important. The second reason is that if you use a certain deworming medicine too often, there’s a chance that the parasites gradually become resistant to it. If that happens the medicine becomes useless and you have to find another one. For dogs and cats this is not a problem, as they need only small doses, but for tigers and lions it’s a whole other story. We use a liquid medicine for our animals, which we inject into the food (meat or goose). This way we can control the dose and can be sure the animals eat it.

How are things with



Akilla is quite shy. For a long time, she would hide in a corner of her inside or outside enclosure as soon as she saw someone she didn’t know. She would only relax, play and talk in the company of the keepers. Now, it’s quite different! She likes going outside and comes running if we call her in. She talks a lot, also to people she doesn’t see often, like the volunteers. She loves to play with everything that moves. When we arrive with the food cart, she will be waiting at the hatch. She eats anything, but prefers beef, rabbit and poultry.

Fred and Ginger



A couple which can’t live without, but sometimes also not with each other. The size of their enclosure doesn’t help with the latter. Fred can be quite dominant, and Ginger has to become invisible if that happens. Usually this quarrel is about a bit of leftover food or a lost bone. They each have their own favourite spot in their outside enclosure, but they always keep a close eye on each other. Both want to be the first inside when it’s feeding time. They’re not choosy when it comes to food, they both will eat anything, but Fred tops everything. He’s a real greedy guts and leaves nothing but some tiny pieces of bone. If fed whole animals he will leave nothing, except the feathers of geese. At the moment their new enclosure is being built, which is a lot bigger than their current one. It will be not only big, but also high. Our colleague Jurjen has been very busy decorating their new home, with climbing options, a pond and greenery. It’s going to be stunning!

Sya and Chen



Sisters Sya and Chen lead a quiet life. They’re definitely a duo, but don’t spend much time together. They just live together, without fights. They keep an eye on one another and regularly pay each other a visit in one of their cabins. They do not like crowds and visits. They like to lie high up so that they can watch everything. When it’s feeding time, they have a set routine. Sya comes inside first through one hatch. Then Chen enters through the other hatch. Always the same. These ladies aren’t particularly choosy either. They eat it all, from chicken necks to tripe and from rabbit to beef.

Vincent and Noelle

Noëlle and Vincent

A love story. These two have been inseparable since they were matched. They follow each other everywhere and always sleep close together in one of their cabins. Vincent is always the bellwether. Curious as he is, he always comes racing in when the hatch opens. Noelle follows a bit later and needs to know if it’s worth the trouble. Vincent eats everything and sometimes likes to play with his food first. Noelle is a bit choosier and is not always hungry. She also eats more slowly than Vincent, which is not hard, as he eats as if his life depended on it! He comes running inside so fast that he brakes against the fence with a sliding. And no, that doesn’t make him unlearn this habit.