7 November 2019

Sandra Kuijmans

Donor Day

On the 2nd of November we had our annual Donor Day. As always, a big success! A good day with enthusiastic people!
The weeks before are usually a bit stressful. Everything needs to be organized, which is a lot of work, mainly for our office colleagues. For us, it was not so bad. We created a hunting programme and made animal presentations (going through many pictures and videos!). In the end, everything worked. We had a wheel of fortune, which meant prizes for many people, the hunting sessions went flawlessly, and the animal presentations were well received. A relaxed day, for the animals, for our team and for all donors.

Patricia presented the wheel of fortune

Aize helped turning the wheel of fortune

Joan, Frodo and Sabra manned the Stichting Leeuw Shop

Sandra gave animal presentations all day long

Removal of Hugo, Ambra, Simba and Isolde

Very exciting news! On Donor Day we announced the opening of the new Lions Foundation in South Africa (so nice that we can finally talk about it!). Eventually Hugo, Ambra, Simba and Isolde will move there, but first they will go to Emoya. As soon as the new location is ready, they will move to their final home there. We did a lot of crate training with them and they all respond well to that. It will lead to a relaxed way of loading them into the transport crates, with little stress.

Update on the cartonboard cathedral

In the last blog I wrote that Joyce donated a carton board cathedral and that we didn’t know yet who to give it to. In the end Sya and Chen got it and they kept it fairly intact. So, we could make another animal happy and we gave it to Fred, with the below result:

How are things with:


Vladimir is doing great. He leads a relaxed life and has his own habits. But he is definitely moving forward! He regularly is allowed to walk through several inside enclosures, to where the transport cart to the big hall is. We keep the hatch to the hall closed for now, but he is allowed into the cart. And lately he’s been doing so! When he is completely comfortable with the transport cart (which may take a while) we might open the hatch, so that our Vladimir too can enjoy the big hall.



Drago is a busy man. He has fun with his brother Iwan and is always doing something. Playing with toys, running back and forth along the fence with his neighbour Vladimir, and investigate everything again and again. Inside he rests comfortably on his plank bed, but he can also often be found in the big hall. There he hunts, takes ages to absorb all new scents, carries toys around and usually takes a dive into one of the ponds. He also enjoys the training sessions!


Simba b

Simba b has only recently joined us and has an unhappy past. The trip to Anna Paulowna was hectic and stressful. But now all these unhappy memories have gone! He is a very happy lion, young, playful and confident. Even though his claws were removed, he is a successful hunter. Even when there are many people watching, he hunts very well. He enjoys his time here; his comfortable firehose bed, the big hall, the peace and quiet outside, but also peeking at the visitors and his neighbours.



Schrikkloof Nature Reserve

Stichting Leeuw in Zuid-Afrika
Recently Stichting Leeuw had the unique opportunity to realise its own lion sanctuary in South Africa. This subsidiary of Stichting Leeuw, which will have the internationally more workable name of The Lions Foundation, is located in the nature reserve Schrikkloof in Limpopo province, only two hours drive from Johannesburg. This foundation will keep close ties with Stichting Leeuw in Anna Paulowna. Together we will be able to be even more active in realising our most important objective: rehabilitating sheltered lions to their original habitat and create room in The Netherlands for other big cats in need. In the African nature reserve lion enclosures of about 1.5 hectares will be built in large areas of bushveld. Care of the lions will be carried out by animal keepers, which reside on the estate, with the help of volunteers. This staff will be in close contact with the keepers of Stichting Leeuw, and will also keep our loyal donors, adoptive parents and followers informed about our lions. Follow The Lions Foundation on Facebook and Instagram!

‘Our’ nine lions which already live in South Africa – Nero & Masrya, Tristan & Nala, Omar, Bruno and the ladies Nora, Ziera en Mahli – will also have a new home at The Lions Foundation. Simba & Isolde and Hugo & Ambra will also move there soon, all very likely in January 2020. There, they can enjoy a wonderful new home. All these lions are still up for adoption – your contribution of a minimum of €10 per month will add to the well-being of all the big cats at The Lions Foundation as well as Stichting Leeuw. See k for more information on adoptions and donations. Thank you!

Visit us in Africa
Did you know you can visit The Lions Foundation? Maybe as part of your next South Africa trip, or as an add-on to your visit to the Kruger National Park.

During a Lions Experience you can see the lions in their new homes. You can visit for a day, but wouldn’t it be nice to stay a few nights at the breathtaking Schrikkloof Nature Reserve? Enjoy the private rooms, the local cuisine, the beautiful estate, the safari drives and the wellness facilities. See for more information and bookings. A large part of the Schrikkloof revenues will of course go to The Lions Foundation.

Volunteer home

Become a volunteer!
Like Stichting Leeuw,  The Lions Foundation will largely depend on the help of enthousiastic volunteers. You too can have the time of your life at Schrikkloof Nature Reserve, helping take care of the lions. We offer an extensive programme and great accommodation. See for more information and bookings.

If you have any questions, please send an email to or


24 October 2019

Sandra Kuijmans

Good morning

Mornings are a special time of day. We arrive at a completely deserted animal park. When we enter Stichting Leeuw and turn on the lights, a few sleepy eyes open. Squinting into the sudden lights. You hear some yawning, some rise from their beds. On the other side you can hear an animal walking about. We start the checkup rounds. Some inside enclosures are empty – the animals are outside. We’ll see them later on the outside keepers’ path. In summer most animals are outside in the morning. A different story in autumn and winter, when most are inside. Some animals start when we pass by – they didn’t hear us coming. Some cats are already waiting for us. We have those who sleep in, like Simba and Iwan. And those who are up bright and early, like Ayla and Afrodite. Just like people, really. Simba’s manes are always in a mess in the morning, something that always makes us smile.

Hugo and Ambra


Sita, Laksmi and Brami

Bakari, Dumi, Sarabi and Jessy

Hammock for Brami, Sita and Laksmi

We built a hammock in Brami, Laksmi and Sita’s outside enclosure. Inside they love their firehose bed, so now they can enjoy it outside too! It’s quite a high construction, made of tree trunks, with the firehose hammock suspended in between. It’s not finished yet, because it needs a step of some sorts, but Laksmi had no trouble getting in. Before long Brami followed her example, and later on Sita as well.


Enrichment takes all shapes, and one of them is toys. We constantly need to replace them, because the big cats get bored easily. So it’s quite a challenge to make it exciting for them every time. Last week our volunteers Anna, Sem and Fien created a new toy out of old firehose. A nice result, which was well received! Another volunteer, Joyce, donated a beautiful cardboard version of the Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. We’re thinking of giving this to the leopards, in the hope that they won’t immediately destroy it. Maybe another animal can have it after them. Should we give it to a lion, we can be sure it will be completely gone in minutes.

How are things with


Our little clown. A small-for-her-species Siberian tigress. One with specific instructions for use. Of course they all have, but Afrodite is a funny one. She can suddenly be daunted by the weirdest things, like a platform in the inside enclosure. She is extremely playful. Afrodite has turned scaring visitors into a sport. In her outside enclosure she will jump against the fence just when unsuspecting visitors walk past. She can also aim very well when she sprays, sometimes straight through the peeping hole, with a lightly sprayed visitor as a result.


Dumi is a member of the Bakari pride. Amongst the lionesses in this pride, she is the lowest in rank. She’s a bit insecure but can be very feisty. She’s a good huntress and very cuddly. She likes to be part of a big heap of lion, which the pride often forms by sleeping against and on top of each other. Dumi is a real men lioness. Which means she clearly prefers the male keepers. No problem for Jurjen and Patrick, but for us ladies it can be a bit of a challenge. Dumi sometimes tends to remain lying in the big hall, when we really want her to come out. It’s not uncommon that we have to cancel hunting sessions, because madam lioness refuses to move.


Our Fred is such a gentleman. He is Ginger’s partner. He stays quite calm, even when Ginger snarls at him. In the end, he’s the boss and it shows. Ginger will move aside, albeit grumpy, when Fred needs to be somewhere. Fred will eat calmly, while Ginger keeps a safe distance. He has two female neighbours (Sya and Chen), who find him very attractive, which of course he loves. He is a photogenic Persian leopard and can therefore often be spotted on Facebook.


10 October 2019

Sandra Kuijmans

When it rains

The weather is not always nice, but still the big cats have to go outside every day, as we have to clean the inside enclosures. Most animals don’t care if it rains, but some are convinced they will melt if they go out. Especially the lions are not pleased. Some two years ago we converted the outside platforms to cabins, where the animals can shelter against rain and wind. In the summer they provide shadow, something that the Siberian tigers especially appreciate. Since the animals can find a dry spot in these cabins, we feel less sorry for them when we ‘send’ them outside. Many are already outside when we arrive, even if it rains, but some really dislike it and will stay inside as long as possible. If we try to tell them to go outside, they will actually make protesting sounds. Especially Simba and Isolde get very vocal in telling us that they have no plans to leave the comfort of the underfloor heating.

Fred finds shelter in his cabin and Ginger in her barrel

I myself don’t like the rain either and if I walk on the outside keeper’s path, I regularly wear a cap and rain clothes. This makes me look very different, which triggers a reaction in some animals. For instance Ayla, who knows very well that it’s me, very much wants to grab me! You can see her dilemma, but she will contain herself. Her eyes speak volumes, though.

Ayla finding out who’s the one in the rain jacket

Kuma is a Siberian tiger who grew up in Milan. Which makes him a kind of snobbish Siberian. He lies inside when it rains, looking out as if there’s a flood. Valesca, his partner, is in the middle of the outside enclosure, worrying about nothing. Most lions don’t like rain, but Ayla doesn’t care at all. We used to have Bruno here, who would be outside in all kinds of weather, even snow! Which proves that not all animals are the same.

Kuma waits until it stops raining

Bakari, Jessy, Sarabi and Dumi

Remy’s present

Little Remy was found a year ago in a field in the middle of the country, in a dog bench. The year with us had definitely agreed with him; he’s doing very well! To celebrate his one-year anniversary, he received a present. Volunteer Shoshana is a teacher and prepared a tower cake out of cardboard boxes. Beautifully decorated! We placed it in the big hall for Remy. At first, he was a bit aloof. It was interesting, but also a bit scary. But eventually he picked the top box and took it up on the big rock.

Remy admires his presents

Guus the vet visits

Our vet Guus arrived again and he visited Elsa and Cesar, in the quarantine building. Cesar was vaccinated by means of the blow pipe. Elsa had to be sedated for a short while, for Guus to place an implant (for birth control). While she was out, he did some clinical exams and made an ultrasound. Guus has a mobile ultrasound machine, which we can easily roll into the enclosure. It enables us to see if her organs look normal. Elsa’s organs looked fine! She should lose some weight, because she’s a bit too big. But with her active lifestyle, that shouldn’t be a problem!


How are things with:


Ever since, sadly, Rudra passed away, Brami is trying to take over the leading role in the group. This doesn’t always work out, because the two ladies are quite feisty! But he’s doing his best. Some months ago, after all these years at Stichting Leeuw, Brami started hunting! In the beginning he was afraid to go into the big hall, as was Sita, so both stayed behind when Rudra and Laksmi walked into the hall. One fine day he suddenly entered the hall as well, but only if the others were in there already. Being on his own in the hall was not his thing. And now he’s hunting all alone in the big hall! So, he came a long way and it’s quite a milestone for him! Sometimes he’s still a little bit daunted, and he takes it easy.


Tyson is doing very well. For a long time he had a nasty wound on his tail, which healed very slowly, but is finally gone. He is good at lazing about, preferably outside, even if the nights start to get colder. He enjoys his cabin, which we filled with straw. He likes his peace and quiet, the attention he gets from his ladies (and neighbour Goha) and occasionally the inside hall.


Jessy is the feisty, dominant lady in the Bakari pride. She is the mother of Ayla, who also lives at Stichting Leeuw. She’s the only lioness not related to the rest of the group. She is an extremely good hunter, and still quite playful. So, she’s first in line at hunting sessions. Once she sets her mind to something, it has to happen, so you might say she’s a bit headstrong.

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!