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.
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 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!
Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary