Father of the pride

With Father’s Day on Sunday, we salute the Father of our ADI Wildlife Sanctuary Pride, 19-year old Leo. 

We know that Leo and partner Muñeca are parents to at least five lions living at the sanctuary: Rolex, Coco, Chino, Africa and KiaraP.  But it could be several more. Before they were rescued by ADI, Leo and Muñeca were owned by a circus in Peru, which was breeding and supplying almost every circus in the country. So, Leo could also be the daddy of Rey Cusco, KiaraC, Smith and Amazonas, and Grand Daddy to Mahla and Scarc – as some Peruvian officials believed. 

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Rolex was rescued from a circus in Peru and now lives at the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary (ADIWS) in South Africa (home to lions and tigers rescued from circuses in Peru, Colombia and Guatemala – after those countries banned animals in circuses). He was rescued with brothers Chino and Coco and in the ADI Temporary Rescue Unit in Peru, the three were inseparable. Sadly, at a facility that held the lions in South Africa before they moved to ADIWS the boys became aggressive and fell out, and Rolex has been alone since. Chino and Coco are still together at ADIWS. Rolex is currently part of our Operation Lonely Hearts program to unite him with his sisters Kiara and Africa. Although from the same circus they have never lived together.

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Kesari doesn’t mind Mondays

If you’re at work and stifling a yawn, look away now…. these pics won’t help. Big Kesari greets the morning with a great big yawn!

Kesari is always up early at the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary, South Africa, to join Chino, Coco, Simba and Rey roaring in the new day at sunrise. Then it’s up the hill to see if he can see the truck being loaded for breakfast. We hope your week is off to as relaxing a start as Kesari’s…..

Rolex enjoys the sunshine

Rolex enjoying the sunshine in the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary, South Africa. Rescued from a circus in Peru by ADI, Rolex is part of our Operation Lonely Hearts to bring together lions at the sanctuary in need of companionship. Rolex is being united with his sisters Africa and Kiara (from the same circus – but they were not caged together). Currently, they rotate in the large (5 acre) Davis Habitat and eat and spend time together in the nighthouse, which has three rooms for introductions and observations. When out in the main habitat, Rolex usually stays close to his sisters in the feeding camp. Fingers crossed this family pride can be successfully united.

Farewell, Bolillo

It is with great sadness that we report that dear Bolillo has passed away.  Like many of our circus survivors, almost a decade in a tiny circus cage, enduring abuse and poor nutrition in Colombia, took its toll on this senior lion. In October, after his last hospitalization, Bolillo was on palliative care for his arthritis and failing kidneys – we kept him comfortable as possible in his African home.  He continued to enjoy life, slowly pottering around Augie Habitat dozing under the trees.  Then in the past week Bolillo retreated to the safety of his house, venturing out only to bask in the sunshine, his appetite failing. He was clearly unhappy and uncomfortable and it was becoming hard to entice him to even take his medication treats. Dr Caldwell came to see him and under anaesthetic, discovered in addition to his deteriorating bones and kidneys, Bolillo had a large stomach tumour.  It was time to do the kindest thing for him (and the toughest for us) and say goodbye to our elderly trooper.

With his spectacular mane, Bolillo had the air of a high court judge. He came across as an old-fashioned gentleman. He was one of our Colombian pride of nine, rescued over seven and a half years ago and taken into our temporary rescue center in Bucaramanga.  The pictures of the lions in their circus cages were haunting; they looked completely broken and were some of the most heartbreaking we have seen. Released from the circus and in ADI’s care, they regained their spirits and love of life and finally, we returned them to the land of their forefathers Africa.  

When ADI rescues large numbers of animals from a circus the beatings, horrific conditions, poor food, in-breeding and lack of veterinary care, we know that early suffering will likely begin to catch up with them in later life.  This has been the case over the past 18 months with the loss of several senior members of the Colombian pride. Although their lives have been shortened by circus life, it is a comfort that they got to live and roar as lions should.

So, although we are heartbroken to say “goodbye”, we celebrate his great escape from the circus and those years under the African sun.  Farewell Bolillo, it was an honour to know you and a privilege to care for you.

Thank you to everyone who helped give this lion those precious years of freedom and living as a lion should.  Please continue to support the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary and give others like our beloved Bolillo a new life.  

Farewell Zeus

It is with great sadness that we bring you the news we all feared, we have had to let Zeus go peacefully. Zeus had been in hospital for more than a week as Dr Peter Caldwell worked to find a way to alleviate the incurable spondylitis and irreversible degenerative neuropathy, causing the 16-year old lion to lose the use of his hind legs.

The problems are a result of his suffering in the circus and first identified in 2017 when Zeus was hospitalized.

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Farewell Shakira and Sombra

We are heartbroken to bring the news that Shakira and Sombra have passed away, finally overcome by the health problems resulting from their suffering in circuses.  As devastated as we are, it is also a reminder of just how precious every day of freedom we can give these animals is. 

Animal Care Manager, Hadio, noticed that sweet lioness Shakira (from Colombia, sister of Easy), had a lump in her front armpit area and she was immediately taken to hospital. Dr Caldwell said it could not have been spotted sooner and we were optimistic because last year Shakira had x-rays and ultrasound for a chest infection, which showed no problems.  We felt it had been spotted quickly and she was prepared for surgery.  Our hopes were dashed. Tests showed a fast growing, aggressive cancer which had spread to her chest, lungs and elsewhere, nothing could be done for her. It was time to say goodbye. Shakira had been with us since we rescued her from a circus in Colombia in 2014.

Then, another blow. Sombra has passed away following heart failure. Vitamin deficiencies as cubs and inbreeding had left three of the tigers we rescued in Guatemala in 2018 with skull, nerve, and spine malformations. The tigresses have had multiple hospital visits, MRIs, various medications and health supplements since we took them from the circus, as we fought to break them free of the effects of their previous life. Bimbi passed away earlier this year and now, sadly, her sister has followed her.   

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Leo is home with Muñeca.

Leo is back at the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary after a spell in hospital. Our old warrior looked very much his old self, as he checked out his feeding camp and house and was then reunited with Muñeca, before they headed out into their Abbey Habitat together. Leo is coping well having had an eye removed by veterinarian Dr Peter Caldwell. His spatial awareness and ability to find his way around seem unimpaired.

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Lioness Sasha’s recovery fun

Catnip boxes, melons, pumpkins, logs, and a swing keep Sasha entertained at the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary, South Africa (ADIWS) – all of which she enjoys after major surgery on her leg.

There is probably no better character to illustrate our work than indomitable lioness, Sasha. We found her in her circus cage in Guatemala, clearly in pain and limping badly. X-rays at the ADI Temporary Rescue Unit in Guatemala revealed a brutal declawing operation had resulted in a toe being crushed, instead of cut off as the circus owners intended. In our field hospital, the toe was amputated but we discovered disease had spread up her leg – she needed specialist help. After Sasha had settled in at ADIWS, she was taken to Dr Peter Caldwell, who removed 8cm of damaged bone and replaced it with a titanium scaffold and bone cement.

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Farewell to a giant: OJ

We have heart-breaking news – our dear lion OJ, one of our circus survivors from Colombia, has lost his battle against cancer. We had hoped he would get longer in the sun with his lifelong friend Iron, but it was not to be.  

At the start of December, 15-year old OJ was diagnosed with an aggressive and incurable leukemia.  With ADIWS veterinarian, Dr Peter Caldwell, we settled on treatment which would give him a good quality of life for a few months and if he was lucky, could give him years. Following treatment, our elderly warrior rallied and tests showed the cancer was retreating. He came home to the sanctuary for Christmas and continued his daily chemotherapy. 

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