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Shamwari: home for orphan leopards

These leopards were found motherless, by soldiers in Sudan, North Africa.  When the soldiers realised they couldn’t care for the un-weaned cubs, they packaged them up in a box and sent them to the offices of Lundin Oil.

The cubs were in a very poor condition but staff at Lundin Oil nursed them back to health.  Virginia Lundin contacted Born Free, asking if we could find a home for the cubs.  With the facilities available, Shamwari offered to take in the triplets at the Julie Ward Centre and so the young leopards arrived at Shamwari Game Reserve on July,  3 2001.

It would be unusual if you don’t catch sight Alam and Sami at our Southern Born Free Sanctuary.  These leopards were hand-reared and still very much enjoy human company. This is a legacy many hand-reared animals are left with. On some lion-breeding farms, or in circuses, for example, cubs are deliberately removed from their mother at a few days old, to make them safe to handle by tourists and by their trainers.  Many are then discarded when they grow older and more dangerous.

Unfortunately, it was not possible to return the cubs to the wild in the reserve here.  Shamwari would not be given permission and as the cubs are too human-friendly they could become a danger.  We recognise captivity is second-best for these wild-born animals – but at Shamwari they are offered an excellent home.

The young leopards were all neutered to stop sexual aggression and territorial behaviour developing, and they remain affectionate playmates.

On some lion-breeding farms, or in circuses, for example, cubs are deliberately removed from their mother at a few days old, to make them safe to handle by tourists and by their trainers.  Many are then discarded when they grow older and more dangerous.

 

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