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Drakenstein Lion Rescue, Saving Little Leo!

Sunday saw the arrival of Little Leo at the Drakenstein Lion Park outside Paarl, and yesterday I visited him with my friend Marie. As animal lovers, we are both aware of the important work being done at the lion sanctuary and keep up to date with their new arrivals.

The Lion Park (I prefer Sanctuary), was established in 1998 to provide lions in distress with a safe environment, free of abuse and persecution, where they can be treated with the compassion and respect that they deserve. This happens on 50 acres of land outside Paarl which is now lion habitat to 35 rescue lions. Their primary work is focussed on rescuing lions that are kept in captivity, hand reared and often abused, from circuses and even homes, both locally and internationally.

Little Leo is one such lion who was found living on a 14th floor balcony in central Beirut. He is about 3- 4 months old, and before arriving on Sunday had never touched grass, felt drizzle on his face or heard the roar of other lions. These photos show him taking in his new surrounds. His anxiety was evident as he paced around, but he soon relaxed.

Lebanon, like many countries around the world, has no laws governing the keep of wild animals as pets and Little Leo is one of the lucky ones to have found his way to South African soil. 

His rescue was made possible with the help of Animals Lebanon, the generosity of Elizabeth Elstob, the Marching Animal Welfare Trust, DHL and Emirates Airlines, as well as Animal Travel Services who sponsored his travel arrangements.

There is a lovely walk through the Sanctuary where you will see many  previously abused lions now enjoying their new home. There are heart breaking stories about containers so small the lions couldn’t move, beatings that led to broken jaws and the breeding of lions for canned hunting. It stories like these that leave me not proud to be human.

Sanctuaries like these need all the help and support that they can get, and one of the options is to Adopt a Lion, which is very affordable and has a huge feel good to it. My friend Marie has part-adopted Little Leo for a year. At a cost of R1000.00 this not only helps with Little Leo’s transition and rehabilitation, but also fills the heart with love and pride. Every difference made, counts.

Oh, and if you, like me, dream of volunteering at a Sanctuary such as this, they have a Volunteer Program well worth looking at. But for now, I dream of Little Leo and his rehabilitation and look forward to revisiting him with Marie in the very near future.

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