How big cats rescued from war-zones have recovered at LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary.

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FOUR PAWS have had several successful emergency missions in rescuing big cats from war-torn countries Iraq, Gaza and Syria. In this short film they highlight the big cats rescued from areas of conflict that now live at the LIONSROCK big cat sanctuary, to show the remarkable improvements in their lives.


The Cats Rescued by Four Paws from War-Zone Areas

In recent years, FOUR PAWS had several successful missions in rescuing big cats from war-torn countries such as Iraq, Gaza and Syria. Motan and Pisa are the newest members from war-zones to join the LIONSROCK family. The two lions were transferred out of the Gaza Strip in March 2019, in what was our biggest emergency mission to date. When arriving at LIONSROCK, it was evident that they’d only been kept in tiny concrete cages as they didn’t know how to react to the sensation of grass under their feet – feeling it for the first time. Both Motan and Pisa are healthy, have adapted well to their new environment, and have warmed up to their new caretakers. Pisa had her first medical check. As she was used for breeding by her previous owner, we spayed her. We’re happy to say that she’s in good health and flourishing, after initially being shy and insecure.

Tiger Laziz arrived at LIONSROCK in August 2016 after being rescued from Khan Younis Zoo in Gaza. The zoo was named as the worst zoo in the world. Laziz, the only surviving big cat, was one of 15 animals left in the zoo – the survivors from what had once been a collection of hundreds of animals. His rehabilitation has been challenging, but it is clear that he’s recovering from his horrible past. After first arriving at LIONSROCK all seemed well, until the first seasonal thunderstorm struck. Months of rehabilitation was compromised in an instant as he associated the sound of this storm with that of bomb attacks. It took several months for him to cope with these regular summer storms in the Free State. The team of caretakers had to put a lot of adaptive measures in place to make him feel at ease in his surroundings again.

Simba was born at the Montazah Al-Morour Zoo during the ongoing war in Iraq, where many of the animals died of starvation or were killed by bomb attacks. It really was a tragedy playing out for the animals at this zoo. Simba’s father, weak and emaciated, was killed by his mate to provide food for herself and Simba. The FOUR PAWS rescue team stepped in the zoo for the first time in February 2017, and only found two animals alive: lion Simba and bear Lula. Simba spent more than 18 months in rehabilitation at Al’Mawa for Wildlife and Nature, a partner sanctuary in Jordan, before he was ready for his journey to his forever home in South Africa.

Saeed joined the LIONSROCK family after he was rescued from Syria. Because he was so young when rescued, it is believed that Saeed was born in captivity during the war in Syria. He was one of 13 animals rescued during July 2017 from the war-torn Magic World amusement park near Aleppo.

He is quite the social big cat and we have seen him improve even more since arriving at LIONSROCK. Saeed is squint-eyed, which might be a result of inbreeding, and we have realised that this affects his vision to some extent. We’ve also tried introducing him to a female of the same age, but until now his behaviour towards her is quite inconsistent and might be as a result of his insufficient eyesight. Simba and Saeed both arrived at LIONSROCK in February 2018.

The Essential Details

Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary is situated about 23km outside of Bethlehem; 13km on a gravel road. Tel: +27 (0)58 304 1691 All proceeds at Lionsrock Sanctuary and Lodge go directly towards the benefit of the rescued animals.

** All details were provided by FOUR PAWS and I’m delighted to be spreading the word about the good work that they do.

** Read my article about ‘Bringing The Big Cats Home‘.




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