Saved from the Big Top, lions finally taste freedom on African soil

The rescued circus lions we told you about yesterday, are now roaming free in Africa.

Sisters Maggie and Sonja, both 8, spent almost their entire lives at a German circus facility. But the Born Free Foundation and its partners got the big cats safely to the Born Free Big Cat Rescue and Education Centre at Shamwari Game Reserve in South Africa after a 6,000 mile journey that spanned two continents.

Here are the lionesses arriving.


“It’s difficult to imagine the hardships faced by these lions, and sad that people could even do this to animals meant to roam free,” Richard Gouverneur, managing director of Jaguar Land Rover South Africa and sub-Sahara Africa, said in a statement. “Land Rover is proud to have been part of their 6,000 mile journey that now sees these majestic animals set paw on African soil, where they’ll have a second chance to live out their days in a nurturing and natural environment.”

First, they tested a new enclosure.

“Today rescued lionesses Maggie & Sonja felt African soil under their paws for the first time as they started their new life at our Big Cat Rescue Centre,” the group announced on Facebook. “Here they are enoying this moment, and meeting our Animal Care Manager, the wonderful Glen Vena.”


“These are relatively young cats, and so despite being a bit tired from the journey, they should adapt quickly to their new surroundings,” Tony Wiles, Born Free’s big cat expert said in a statement. “Already they are exploring the enclosure’s natural features and taking the opportunity to stretch their legs and bask in the southern hemisphere’s summer sunshine.”

Here’s Sonja.


And, here’s Maggie.


“After spending most of their lives in cramped and squalid conditions,” Wiles added, “it feels great to be able to offer these girls a safe, happy and natural place to live out the rest of their lives. That’s what it’s all about.”

Home sweet home, indeed.


Photos Born Free Foundation/Facebook

About the author

Recovering newspaper reporter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.