As I sit before Neptune, a magnificent male white lion, I look around at my surroundings and can’t help but think of the opening sentence from the book “Out Of Africa”…
‘I once had a farm in Africa’.
It makes me think of all the past, present, and future staff members and volunteers who will forever have such wonderful, inspiring stories to tell for years to come. Stories of walking around the tigers’ enclosure only to be joined by Bella, a female Bengal tiger who loves the company of people. Stories of being filled with joy when you watched the animals have the time of their lives with the enrichment YOU helped make for them. Stories of not needing an alarm clock, because you have the roars of lions to wake you up in the morning (and lull you to sleep at night!). Stories of meeting new friends from all over the world, friends you would never have come across had it not been for Panthera Africa.
Cat and Lizaene, the two owners of the sanctuary, are two of the most sincere, devoted and caring people I have ever met. I am truly in awe of all they have achieved so far, and will go on to achieve in the future. They have completely dedicated their lives to the animals who live here at the Sanctuary, and also to the other animals out there who still, very desperately, need help.
As soon as I arrived almost three weeks ago, I could see that each animal has his or her own unique personality. They are all incredibly sweet, but I was instantly drawn to Neptune. Not only is he beautiful to look at (they all are!) with his thick white mane, handsome face, and incredibly wise eyes, he is also a very intelligent, funny lion. He makes me smile every day, whether it’s by rolling around lazily in the sun, carrying his enrichment off proudly with his head held high, or by the way he calls very gently and quietly for his treats. When you look into Neptune’s eyes, you can see that he has a very intelligent and caring soul.
The thing I love the most about Neptune, however, is his loyalty. Neptune has been with Lizaene for his entire life, and it is so easy to see that he completely and utterly adores her. He will wait for her by the side of his enclosure when he knows that she is coming to see him, and at that point it would be almost impossible to distract him. Lizaene is his best friend, and I love how clear it is for everyone to see that, while Neptune enjoys the company of others, Lizaene is his one and only.
I thank my lucky stars every night that I have been given the opportunity to be at Panthera Africa. Everyone here is so welcoming and friendly, it’s like being part of a big family. Evenings together after work are filled with fun and laughter. And while the African sun sets behind the mountains, I can feel my heart say
“I am at home, here on this farm in Africa.”
Lynsey – August 2015