Special group of retired circus animals

Lion Foundation new home to a special group of retired circus animals.

In February 2017 the Lion Foundation became the new home of a very special group of circus animals: tiger King, tigress Ursel and lioness Ambra.

These animals spent their whole life together and regard each other as congeneric. This is remarkable, because lions and tigers normally have very different habitats.

Because the big cats are already 13 years of age and very close, the Lion Foundation aims to keep them together.

Team Lion Foundation

Bijzondere groep

‘Best Day Out’ 2017 in North Holland


In the race for ‘Best Day Out’ 2017 in North Holland the Hoenderdaell Estate won the highest grades. The zoo, comprising the Lion Foundation big cat shelter, won a great many votes and high scores on almost all qualities. The Zuiderzeemuseum came second and the Museum Broekerveiling in Broek op Langedijk came third.

Big cat news!!

Big cat news!!

Yesterday a new resident of the Lion Foundation arrived. It is a female cougar of about 12 years old. Because she came to us just before Christmas, she was given the name Noelle.

For the first years of her life this animal was kept illegally by a private owner in the Netherlands. In 2006 she was confiscated, together with a male cougar. Animal park BestZoo in Best took the cougars in and have taken good care of them for years. After the male died, Noelle was on her own and she had to take turns in using an outside enclosure, for lack of space. For this reason the zoo decided to look for another park for this beautiful animal. Because the Lion Foundation has had a male cougar for a couple of years now, our Vincent, Noelle has come to us.

Hopefully the two animals will share an enclosure, if they get along. We can’t predict how long this will take and indeed if this will happen. It all depends on how the cats will react to each other. Noelle will be kept inside for the first few days, to get comfortable with her new environment and keepers. When she has settled in, she can go outside. After a while Vincent will move to the enclosure next to Noelle. The keepers will observe the cats closely and the cougars can get to know each other.

Patience is the key here…. As soon as Noelle can be admired by visitors, we will let you know on Facebook.

Team Lion Foundation


Brothers Omar and Bruno to Africa


Lion brothers Omar and Bruno soon to be under the African sun

For 5 years now the Lion Foundation has been a safe haven for big cats in need, such as dismissed circus animals or privately-owned cats which cannot be kept any longer. Because the Lion Foundations wants to do more than just shelter animals, we were very happy to partner up with Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa. They can offer our lions a more natural habitat. Animals that for whatever reason will never be able to hunt for themselves, can live comfortably in an enclosure of at least one hectare. Here they can enjoy the African warmth, space, quiet and excellent care. Younger animals, which stand a better chance of surviving in their natural habitat, will be taught how to hunt in small steps, starting with the hunting simulator. They will eventually be released in wildlife reserves. Every single lion needs a different approach.

So far 5 lions have been transferred from the Lion Foundation to the Emoya estate. At the annual donor day 2016 it was revealed that next spring will witness the departure of the special brothers Omar and Bruno to their homeland Africa!

Both lions were born in a circus in the Czech Republic. Here it is still allowed to deploy wild animals in circuses. Many towns even allow people to keep them in their back yard. Circuses use the lion cubs to charge tourists money for having their picture taken with a cub, but when the cubs grow older they have no use for them. Especially the males are a problem, as they cannot be kept together. Omar and Bruno were also sold or given away separately, to private owners in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. They both ended up with criminals.

Bruno’s story

As a cub Bruno was kept at the circus, and later given away to a private owner in the Czech Republic. When Bruno was about 4 years old, his owner was sent to prison, where he died. His widow had problems getting rid of the lion. Months later she didn’t know what else to do but euthanise him. The Lion Foundation came to the rescue.

Bruno lived in the front yard, close to the road. Judging from Bruno’s behaviour now, it is very likely that he was often bullied and challenged. We wouldn’t be surprised if he was occasionally fed human flesh. Bruno can be very aggressive and unpredictable towards humans and he finds it hard to settle down at the Lion Foundation, as it is situated in the animal park of the Hoenderdaell Estate, where visitors can see him (even if this is limited because of the natural fencing). For this reason the Lion Foundation plans to transfer Bruno to the peaceful South Africa.

Omar’s story

Omar the lion was born in a circus and was sold to private owners in Slovakia when he became too big. Omar was kept in a cage in the back yard until he was 4 years old, when his owners suddenly fled abroad. He was left on his own. A relative tried to sell Omar on the Internet, but this failed. He couldn’t be kept, as feeding an adult lion costs a lot of money. A lion eats 6 kilo’s of meat on average, but Omar was fed a little bit of meat and cream. Thankfully an animal’s right organisation heard of Omar’s fate and asked the Lion Foundation for help. We immediately drove our truck to Slovakia to pick Omar up.

But when we arrived, Omar was in a very bad state. He weighed only 90 kilo’s, whereas an adult male of his age weighs around 150 kilo’s. He was all skin and bones, covered in wounds and faeces, in a dilapidated and filthy cage, waiting to be saved. Our drives warned us to be prepared that Omar wouldn’t survive the trip. Thankfully he did survive and arrived safely in Anna Paulowna. When we first saw him, looking frightened in his transport cage, we knew it would be quite a challenge to make him well again. Slowly but surely, by allowing Omar peace and quiet, a healthy diet and supplements and with a lot of patience, he was revived into a majestic lion. After two years at the Lion Foundation it is time for him to move on.
Even though Omar and Bruno are brothers, they cannot be kept together. They were separated as cubs and don’t recognise each other. Also, despite being related, grown males usually do not tolerate other males. The Lion Foundation has no suitable lionesses for Omar and Bruno. In Africa there is more room and potential for the brothers to get used to other lions and hopefully be coupled with females. This is something the Lion Foundation cannot offer them, so we are very grateful for the cooperation with Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary. Both lions are still young, so we have high hopes for a happy future for these big hunks.
Many of our staff, volunteers, adoptive parents and donors are going to miss these beautiful and special animals, but surely they deserve the journey to their home… the warmth of South Africa!

In Africa the building of the enclosures for Omar and Bruno has started, and the paperwork for the trip is being processed. We very much need your help and support, as the relocation costs €25,000 per animal. Please donate or adopt one of our beautiful animals to help us give them the future they deserve!

Lion Foundation

Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary

Veer restaurant

Per 1st December 2016 restaurant Veer opposite the entrance of the animal park is closed for business.
The property will be completely refurbished. The restaurant will be re-opened around March 2017.

Gouden Roerdomp

This year Landgoed Hoenderdaell has won the Gouden Roerdomp (Golden Bittern), an appreciation award for an established project, chosen by the province of North Holland.
Landgoed Hoenderdaell wins a prize of €1000.

Donor Day 29th October 2016

Saturday 29th October is Donor Day for the Lion Foundation.
Everyone who signed up for this day is welcome from 10 am.
There will be 2 blocks of presentations, held in the special tent next to the birds of prey house:

10.30-11.00 am Presentation by Robert Kruijff
11.30-11.45 am Presentation by Minunette & Savannah Heuser (Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary)
12.00-12.30 am Presentation by photographer Henk Gerber, followed by presenting a cheque for the 5-year anniversary of the Lion Foundation to the Board, by Henk Gerber
12.30 am Video message from Edwin Wiek (Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand)

1.00 uur Presentation by Tebulo (hunting simulator en skating fundraiser for the Siberian tiger)
1.30-2.00 pm Presentation by Robert Kruijff
2.30-2.45 pm Presentation by Minunette & Savannah Heuser (Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary)
3.00-3.30 pm Presentation by Henk Gerber, followed by presenting the cheque from the art auction
3.30 pm Video message from Edwin Wiek (Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand)

There will be several stands on the balcony of the Lion Foundation hall, and every 45 minutes there will be 2 hunting sessions, starting 11 am.

Have a great Donor Day!

The Lion Foundation

Tebulo skates for Stichting Leeuw

On the 31st of January 2017 Team Tebulo will skate the alternative Elfstedentocht, an alternative to the classic Dutch ice-skating tour through eleven towns, on the Weissensee in Austria. Their goal is to raise as much money as possible for Stichting Leeuw, to fund their Siberia project.

In the past few years Tebulo Engineering B.V. has closely cooperated with Stichting Leeuw, by developing the hunting simulator.

Here’s a chance for you to support this ice-skating team and Stichting leeuw!


For more information, see the website or follow the team on facebook or Twitter


Today we welcomed a new lady to Stichting Leeuw, Afrodite: a beautiful tigress of only fourteen months old. She comes to us from a Greek zoo. Afrodite is a pure-bred Amur tiger, just like Vladimir, Valesca and Bohdana.

We are expecting two more tigers over the next few months. Our end goal is to find the perfect Amur tiger couple, so we can release them into the semi-wild in Russia where we cooperate with the Severtsov Institute.

Our tigers will be released in an enclosed area, where they will be fed live prey. We hope that our tigers will reproduce and that we can release the cubs in the wild when they are two years old. This procedure has already been successful with orphaned tigers, so we are cautiously optimistic.

AfroditeToday marks a new step in saving Amur tigers from extinction. We would like to thank all staff, volunteers, donors, adoptive parents, supporters and the board of Stichting Leeuw, because their support has made this possible.

We will post updates and photographs of this project regularly.

Robert Kruijff, director

1000th adoption

On Sunday 10th January 2016 we presented mrs. A.G.L. van der Meulen-Vis with the adoption papers for Bruno.
We’re very pleased to announce that she is the 1000th person to adopt an animal.