Donor Day

The invites for Donor Day were sent out by email. We sent invites by post to those whose email address we don’t have.
Unfortunately, for some email addresses we received an error message. Also, the emails could have been lost in your spam box, so please check.

If by any chance you didn’t receive your invite, please send an email to with your name and address, so we can send it again.


26 September 2019

Sandra Kuijmans


Simba B in the big hall for the first time

Simba b is doing so well, and is behaving so confidently, that we decided to introduce him to the hunting hall. He was already familiar with the way to the hall, so this time he agerly ran to and fro in the inside enclosures. He spent some time rolling about in Goha’s straw bed and then went straight to the corridor and into the hall. The corridor is a transport cart, positioned between the inside enclosures and the hall, to provide an entry into the hall. Just like his first time in his outside enclosure, he immediately started to examine everything. Very thoroughly. After that, it was time for play! Jurjen called Simba and at first it seemed he would go back through the corridor, but alas. Just before the corridor he started running! Sprinting through the entire hall. This was probably the first long run he ever had in his life. It reminded me of a cow allowed in the fields after a long winter. He clearly enjoyed it! After 15 minutes of few catch-me-if-you-can exercises (challenge and run off), he walked into the corridor by himself. Of course, there was a reward waiting for him. Despite the fact that he has no claws, we are quite confident that Simba B can participate in the hunting sessions soon.

Simba B in the hall


Cesar and Elsa

Busy times at Stichting Leeuw. We received two new lions, Cesar and Elsa. Two young, two-year-old lions, who were in private possession in Poland. The owner had to go to prison and the lions were temporarily stationed in Slovakia. From there Stichting Leeuw picked them up. They arrived very late in the evening at the quarantine building, where they will stay for a while. Unloading them went very smoothly. They were quite calm and immediately started examining their new enclosures. After resting for the night and sleeping in the next morning, they were reunited, which made them very happy. Now they spend a lot of time playing. Elsa is a bit more playful than Cesar and loves all the toys she’s given. The video shows Elsa playing with a paper bag.



Unloading Elsa

Elsa calmly lying down


How are things with:



Sarabi is one of the group of 4 circus lions. Amongst the ladies, Sarabi is second in rank. People don’t hear much about Sarabi and also she is adopted less frequently than the other animals. But Sarabi is actually a very nice lioness! Well, as far as lions go, of course, but for us keepers she’s pleasant to work with. Sarabi is a very good huntress, loves interaction with her pride but also with the keepers. She enjoys the training sessions and often walks up to us to see if there are any snacks to be had.



Ginger obviously is a stunning girl. She is doing very well. She likes to come and say ‘hello’ if you’re on the keepers’ path, but if it’s very busy she tends to keep to the back of her enclosure, hidden between the bamboo where you can hardly see her. Ginger likes to sit in the barrel in the outside enclosure and can also frequently be seen in her hammock.



Goha, our diva. Goha is one of the animals that have been at Stichting Leeuw the longest. She too comes from a circus. This elderly lady is a real character, really one of a kind. Doors need to open just the right amount for her to go through them. Meat has to be fresh enough for her to eat it. Sometimes she hunts, depending on her mood. We really can’t predict this. If she does hunt, she’ll do it gracefully and quite intensely. She usually uses her mouth to pull the meat off the simulator. So without using her paws, and even that she does gracefully. When she’s not so much in the mood, she will follow the meat at her own pace and doesn’t go through too much trouble. Sometimes she’s definitely not in the mood and ignores the prey completely. She’d rather roll about in the sand or take a bath in the pond.


12 September 2019

Sandra Kuijmans



Feeding is a big part of our job. Feeding is not only vital for the animal’s good health, it is also an opportunity to observe the animals. We mainly look at their behaviour. Do they eat enough and in a way which is normal for them? Do they respond to us, to the food and to any neighbours and group members in the usual way? We notice deviant behaviour quickly, as we know the cats very well individually. We have calm eaters (Simba), wild eaters (Tyson), bottomless pits (Isolde), picky eaters (the Siberian tigers), collectors (Iwan and Drago) etc. It takes all sorts. Some animals behave quite fiercely just before feeding, but are back to normal when they are full. An example is Tyson. We also have weird eaters, who always eat in a certain way, like Simba. He always eats with his bottom up in the air, which looks very funny. Some animals we feed during the day, for logistic reasons, but most get fed at the end of the day. Most of them already wait impatiently outside. They can’t tell the time, but know exactly what time it is. Feeding requires a lot of organising. The big cats have to be inside, each in a separate enclosure. The feeding cart is prepared, with all the equipment, food and supplements. The animals are eager and bolt inside. The groups are not particularly nice to each other in those moments, a situation that requires our extra attention. At feeding times we always stand at the ready. When all preparations are done, we start feeding. Every individual gets a piece of meat according to its condition, for example: animals who easily gain weight get a smaller piece, animals with a high metabolism get a bigger piece. We also have lazy eaters (like Goha), who don’t make the effort to eat the meat off the bone. They get an easy piece. Animals who gobble (like Isolde) or eat very quickly get pieces that require more effort. Pieces that they can chew on for a while.

Remy enjoys his surprise in a box

Simba eating bottom up



What do we feed?

The big cats (tigers and lions) are mainly fed beef. They also regularly get goose, sometimes tripe and very occasionally salmon. The smaller cats (leopards and cougars) also get beef and goose, but also rabbit and pigeon. We try to give them food that comes close to what they would eat in the wild. Big cats eat mainly big game. Smaller cats have a more varied diet, because they catch smaller prey.


How much do we feed?

Like we said before, this is animal dependent. Generally, the animals get between 1 and 7 kilograms of meat; the smallest (Sya and Chen) about 1 kilo and the biggest (Vladimir and Kuma) about 6 to 7 kilos. These are averages, because the leopards Sya and Chen sometimes get a goose, which weighs 3 to 4 kilos, feathers included. On the other hand, the big cats also sometimes get just a goose, so on those days they get a bit less than normal. In the wild they don’t always catch exactly the same prey, so we try to copy that. That is why we also have one day a week without food. If it’s very warm, like last summer, we introduce an extra fasting day. In spring and autumn, we also give less meat, like in the wild, when the herds are migrating and there’s less prey.


All animals get a general supplement (Carmix) on their meat. This is a vitamin and mineral concentrate for felids. Many of our older animals also get glucosamine, which has a positive effect on the ligaments. Some animals get special supplements.

Carmix, a vitamin and mineral supplement


How are things with:

Isolde with a toy

Simba in the newly planted bamboo

Simba and Isolde

The icons of Stichting Leeuw. A very cute couple, with Simba being the laid-back one and Isolde the busybody. Isolde is very playful and plays a nice game of football. Simba prefers to do nothing, he is just being the cool guy. The couple is 8 years old and is about to move to South Africa. Those of you who follow Stichting Leeuw, know that relocation can take quite a while. Shame, but it can’t be helped. Meanwhile, they enjoy their time at Stichting Leeuw!

Remy with a goose wing


Remy is a teenager now, and up for anything. The world is one big playground. We do hunting sessions with Remy, but only when there are no or very few visitors. Remy is still quite apprehensive of people on the balcony when he is in the hunting hall. He’s very good at hunting! A bit blunt, but that’s just his young age. Which can lead to very funny situations. Like when we hung a goose wing on the simulator for the next hunting session and parked it over a pond, so that Remy wouldn’t get it. When we we’re going about our business cleaning behind the curtains, we heard a big splash. When we rushed to look, we saw Remy, proudly standing with the goose wing in his mouth, in the pond. Completely drenched.

Bohdana sunbathing


Bohdana is one of the Siberian triplets (the others are Vladimir and Valesca). Bohdana enjoys her outside enclosure. Hers has a lot of vegetation, where she can hide behind. She likes her peace and quiet. She also likes to spend time with her neighbour Kuma, whom she gets along with very well. She, like Bombay, doesn’t like to be locked up inside, but going inside is getting better and better. She enjoys target training and likes to show this off during the tiger workshops.


29 August 2019,
Sandra Kuijmans

Simba B goes outside
You will probably have noticed: last Monday Simba B went outside for the first time. In the afternoon we parked Remy temporarily in another inside enclosure. Then we opened the hatch of Simba’s enclosure. As soon as Simba realised this, he went outside, without hesitating. He was very curious and inspected everything thoroughly. Half an hour is usually enough for the first time. We gradually increase the outside time, depending on an animals’ reaction. It is important that new animals slowly get used to a new environment. After half an hour Simba was relaxing in the sun. When we called him inside, he immediately came inside. So, a very successful first outside encounter! Simba shares his outside enclosure with Remy, but never at the same time. They take turns in being outside. The video below shows Simba’s first steps outside.


Simba B in his outside enclosure

Crate training Drago
To prepare animals for transport, we do crate training with them. This means that we let them get used to the transport crate which they will be in during transport to their natural habitat. First, they have to get familiar with the presence of the crate. Then we try to make them feel at ease inside the crate. We do this by making the crate fun for them. For most of our animals this means: food. The next step is to have them take pieces of meat from us while they are inside the crate. When they are completely used to the crate, all we have to do is repeat the crate training regularly, until they are actually transported. For some animals this is an easy and quick process, successful after only one training session. For other animals it takes longer. Below is a picture of Drago during crate training.

Drago in the transport crate

How are things with:

Vincent and Noëlle

Early this year we removed the fence between Vincent and Noëlle’s enclosures. This turned out to be a good match! The two cougars often lie together in their cabin outside and keep a close eye on one another. It’s good to see them enjoying each other’s company, especially for Noëlle, who lived together with a male cougar before she came to Stichting Leeuw.


Bombay is now a lot more relaxed when he’s inside. Before, Bombay wouldn’t come inside and we were only able to clean his outside enclosure every two weeks or so. This obviously resulted in a small bone graveyard on his outside cabin. Now, things are much better! Partly as a result of training (in this case, a different way of feeding), Bombay is more inclined to go inside. As long as he knows he can go outside whenever he wants, all is well. Being locked in inside is still a problem for him, but less so than a couple of months ago. So, now we can regularly clean his outside enclosure!


Laksmi belongs to a group of former circus animals. She lives together with Brahmi and Sita. Laksmi still enjoys hunting but can also be very lazy. We can see she’s getting older in her appearance, but physically and mentally she’s still young! Generally, she’s an active tigress, who likes to be mentally challenged. So, she turns the hunting sessions into a competition. Who’s the smartest? All tigers have a typical way of greeting us, which we call frutten. It’s a chuffing or snorting, which sounds a bit like: ‘Ffrrrrr”. What I like about Laksmi, is that she’s the only tiger that doesn’t frut back to people, the keepers in this case. She will look at me as if I’m crazy (maybe I am a little bit).


The vet, and Simba B’s removal

22 August 2019,
Sandra Kuijmans

Vet Guus arrives for vaccinations.
Our vet, Guus Blokland, arrived to vaccinate a few animals, one of which was Simba B (we already have a lion named Simba and also this Simba comes from Baghdad, hence the B). Guus vaccinates by means of a blowpipe. The dart actually contains the vaccine, so the animals do not need to be sedated first.

Vet Guus vaccinates Ayla

Vet Guus vaccinates Simba B

Most animals know Guus by now, and it’s safe to say that most are not particularly happy to see him. Especially the lionesses get very fierce. It’s no fun for us either, to see the animals this stressed, but it’s a necessary evil. It’s like us going to the dentist; you’re not looking forward, but it needs to be done. The upside is that it’s done in an instant and it lasts a whole year. Guus thinks Simba B is doing very well (we think so too!). He’s getting more and more muscular!

Simba’s removal
Finally, Simba can leave quarantine and move to Stichting Leeuw. To prepare him, we did crate training with him, so that he could get used to the transport crate (see videos below). We also do target training with Simba B, which serves two purposes: it’s a way to gain his trust and bond with him, and it’s a kind of physical therapy for him, because he gets more exercise and uses more muscles than he would by just walking.


Monday was the big day. We secured the transport crate to his quarantine enclosure and waited. Would he just walk in? It’s always a bit nerve-wrecking, because we don’t want animals to get too stressed. Ideally he would walk into his crate and calmly eat his piece of meat while we close the crate behind him. We know from experience that it doesn’t always work this way, but we’ve been doing this for years now and in the end things always work out. But in this case everything went exactly according to plan! It took one minute to get Simba in the crate and he was ready to leave! The crate went into the Hoenderdaell van and was moved to Stichting Leeuw. So the whole removal operation went very smoothly, partly because we put a lot of effort into crate training and creating a bond of trust. The video below, broadcast by regional TV, shows the move of Simba B.


Transition period
Simba needs some time to get used to his new enclosure. He now has a neighbour: Remy! Who is also curious about his new next door neighbour.

Simba B

Simba B and neighbour Remy

Simba immediately jumped on Remy’s firehose bed (of course, Remy was outside at that time so he had no say in the matter). So, keepers Jurjen and Patrick moved another firehose bed (Vladimir’s) to Simba’s enclosure, so that he too can ‘chill’ on one of those beds. Vladimir is not using it and kindly agreed to give the bed to Simba B. Nice, isn’t it?

Simba B in Remy’s firehose bed

After a few days Simba is not so timid anymore. He watches everything with curiosity from his inside enclosure. We put Remy in the big hall, so that they can actually see each other. Remy just wants to play and challenge Simba. Simba is not always charmed by this and makes himself heard. He quickly gets used to people. Every day quite a lot of people walk past him, which is not a problem for him. He has a very loud roar and makes sure we know it! He also likes to play, which can be seen in the video below.


Simba will stay inside for a while. As soon as he is completely familiar with his inside enclosure and the hunting hall, he will be ready to explore the outside! More about this in one of our next blogs!

Through the eyes of the keepers (blog 2)

8 August 2019
Sandra Kuijmans


Last week our dear colleague Roy Meulemans passed away after a tragic accident.
We are all devastated and wish his family, friends and colleagues strenght to bear this terrible loss.

Too young
Torn away from life
While you had still so much to give
So unexpected, so sudden
When you just went to work that day
We cannot comprehend that you are gone
It was an honor to know you
Rest in peace, dear Roy



On 1 August we had a visit from Gwen van Poorten, for the TV show ‘Zomer met Art’. The crew was filming for the TV show which aired the same night. I was a guest at that show, to talk about Stichting Leeuw. That was a very nice experience! Click this link to watch the show. Sandra bij De Zomer Met Art

Golden oldies

Baby Ayla and mum Jessy

Mother and daughter next to each other. Can you see the resemblance? To the left is baby Ayla and to the right mother Jessy. Jessy’s milk production declined a couple of weeks after Ayla was born, and she left the cub on her own. Ayla lost a lot of weight, which became dangerous. We took Ayla from her mother to save her life, and started bottle-feeding her. In the beginning Daphne kept Ayla at her home, to raise her in a quiet and stable environment. After a while Ayla came with Daphne to Stichting Leeuw when Daphne was working. And when Ayla was big enough, she moved to Stichting Leeuw permanently. In this picture Ayla is about five months old. Jessy and Ayla are in separate enclosures, but next to each other. Ayla is now an adult lioness of four years, as you can see in the video below.

Aslan and Ayla in the great hall

Aslan was in for some wild play with Ayla! They were sneaking up to each other, jumping on top of each other and having a lot of fun. Ayla tends to bully Aslan a little bit, by biting his bum. But Aslan doesn’t like that, and lets Ayla know.

Click the link to see the video: ayla en aslan_1

A keeper’s day

What does a typical day look like for us?

There are a number of jobs which need to be done every day, at almost the same times of day. There are also some extra jobs to do, and almost always some additional extra work. These are the standard jobs:

We first check the enclosures and the animals, making sure they are all still there and in the right place – yes please. It never happened that a big cat was not in its enclosure and we’d like to keep it that way! When we open, we also check the animals’ physical condition and behaviour.

Clean, prepare meat
Now’s the time to start cleaning the inside and outside enclosures, which is mainly done by our excellent team of volunteers!  They are the best, every single one of them, as they help out at Stichting Leeuw, often on top of their own jobs. During the cleaning hours we let one or a group of animals in the hunting hall to play and we prepare the meat for the hunting and training sessions.

Two of our volunteers, Patricia and Anna

Preparing the meat

Do hunting sessions
At the end of the morning it’s time for the first hunting session. The lions and/or tigers are prepared, the information tape starts and we put on our headset. Showtime. Well… showtime? As I said in our last blog, we are helpless if the animals decide to do something else that we’d like. We announce a spectacular hunt to the visitors, and then all that happens is that the animal rolls around in the bamboo or is far more interested in a certain smell on a tree than in a piece of meat on the hunting simulator. And there you are; a balcony full of people looking at a tiger that has no intention at all of even looking at the ‘prey’. If this happens, we do our best to lure the animal out of the hall, so that we can hunt with another lion or tiger. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. Never mind, this is what makes working with animals fun. You just never know what they will do. Not even us. Of course, some animals are usually very keen and some usually aren’t, but we still offer every one that wants to, the opportunity to practice their natural behaviour and to enjoy the other enrichments of the hunting hall, like toys and many smells. In the afternoon we run another hunting session, and on Sundays also a third.

Aslan likes the tree better than the toy on the hunting simulator

Vladimir takes part in a training session

After the hunts there’s time for training. We train the animals for medical purposes, as an enrichment activity and as preparation for transport (I’ll tell you more about training in another blog).

After the last hunting session we do extra jobs. This can be anything from mowing and cleaning ponds in the outside enclosures, to clearing the keepers’ path and repairing all kinds of stuff. We (okay, Jurjen and a few keen volunteers) also make those nice beds and toys out of old fire hose. And we clear out the collected scat and bone leftovers. In the afternoon we prepare the enrichment for the following day. The animals get new enrichment twice a week, in many forms. I’ll tell you more about this subject too in one of the next blogs.

After all this work the feeding starts. Well, some animals were fed during the day, for logistic reasons. The rest gets to eat now, and they know it! Many walk to and fro in front of the hatch and the rest lies turned to the hatch, waiting for it to open. We let the animals in and lead them each to a separate enclosure, to avoid fights and to be able to see how much each animal eats.

After our last check-up round, during which we also note how much the animals have eaten and if there are any special things, it’s time to close up. All gates and doors are locked, lights out, good night everyone!

Through the eyes of the keepers (blog 1)

28 July 2019
Sandra Kuijmans

Animal keepers are mysterious folk. You don’t see them much, they don’t say much and many visitors wonder what it is they do all day long. This blog gives a little insight in Stichting Leeuw, through the eyes of the keepers!
First, let us introduce ourselves. The Stichting Leeuw keepers team has five people. Every day there are two keepers at work, and sometimes even three. I always say: “To each his own talent”. That works for us too. We all have our preferences and special skills. Together, we can do almost anything! That’s what makes us a strong team!

This is us:






So, we can get almost anything done. Almost anything, because the fact is that we work with animals. And our animals determine the show. Lions, tigers, leopards and cougars; animals to be reckoned with! They are and will always be wild, even those from circuses or the bottle-fed ones. We can’t put them on a lead. We do have some tricks at hand, but in the end it’s just the keepers tough luck if the animals decide to do different than want we wanted! This often results in changes of plans and very funny moments.

Last week it was warm. Actually, it was hot. Even here in Anna Paulowna in Holland, it was hot. Some animals can manage in the heat, but some, yes, even the lions and the Bengal tigers, suffered. We cancelled our hunting sessions for a couple of days. Exertion can be a danger to the health in these temperatures. For this reason lions hunt at night and twilight, when it is much cooler than in the middle of the day! Some of our animals rest in the shade, some lie in the ponds and many just want to stay inside, where it is about 10 degrees cooler than outside. The park has very few visitors, because most people think twice before the go to a zoo when it’s 38 degrees Celsius. At Stichting Leeuw it is serenely quiet, but the daily chores still need to be done.

Tigress Cita naps on the rocks in the great hall, under the sprinklers. Lion Simba, who is currently still in quarantine, is not troubled by the heat. He is the only one who has air-conditioning. After the daily cleaning of the inside enclosures, we feed the animals early. After feeding we open the hatches to the outside enclosures, so that the animals can choose to be inside or outside.

Afrodite stretches out on the cool floor.

Front paw of Remy, who also prefers the inside.

We spend the rest of the day doing cooling jobs, work involving water and inside jobs. For instance, we just got cabinets to keep all our tools in, so they need to be filled. We have quite a lot of tools, because there’s always jobs to do. For most of those jobs we don’t have staff. We do them ourselves. We are animal keepers, but also handymen (okay, sometimes also handywomen).

What would you like to know, or see, behind the scenes at Stichting Leeuw?
Let us know in the comments on the facebook post, with a link to this blog!

And just maybe we’ll address your question in one of our next blogs!

Ambra and Hugo

As our lions Ambra and Hugo now both live on their own, it would be great if we could match these two. We already moved Hugo to Ambra’s enclosure, where they take turns in being outside. Through a fence in the hatch separating the inside and outside enclosure they can get to know one another.

We decided to relocate both lions to South Africa, at the same time as Simba and Isolde. Hugo and Ambra are not so young anymore, but we hope they can still spend a couple of comfortable and warm years in their original habitat.

At the moment we are waiting for the import documents for all four animals. As soon as we receive these, we can start planning the journey.