The Pride

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened."

Anatole France



Pardus (Born 28 March 2012)

Pardus was the only cub in the litter and a couple of hours old when her mother rejected her (this is the story told us. She was dehydrated and struggled for 3 days before starting to drink, and she has kept her fighting spirit ever since. Even though she is small of size, beautiful and loving, it is her cheeky personality that makes her unique and captures the many hearts of both volunteers, staff and tourists. Pardus is the star of most of our visits where she charms the people with her roly-poly’s showing off her stunning rosettes, as well as illustrating her agility by her fast movements, playfulness and climbing of her tree and platforms. She definitely is a black beauty!


Sheeba (18 August 2007)

Sheeba was rescued from a hunting facility where he was overfed to obesity for the reason of stretching his skin. So when he was going to be shot and his pelt sold it would be worth more money on the market. Sheeba now has lost a significant amount of weight and is moving around a lot better in his enclosure. The hunting farm had also declawed his front paws. Declawing of the paws is not just removing the nail as you might think. It’s actually an amputation of the first knuckle upwards. So it’s like us not having the tips of our fingers. All of the big cats walk on this part of their paws, as Sheeba unfortunately no longer has this he now has to walk on his wrists which has caused severe arthritis. He is on arthritis medication to ease this for him. For the first 3 weeks we barely saw Sheeba, and only knew he was there because his food was eaten. But step by step he started to trust us, and now he has grown into a confidant beautiful man! He loves to play and is very curios, and truly enjoys spending lots of time with his caretakers.

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Arabella (Born 1 April 2012)

Arabella, or Bella as she is called, was raised by a very good friend of the founders. At about two months of age, Bella became very ill and contracted a virus in her brain. She stayed in intensive care for three weeks, and was given a less than 20% chance of survival. But with lots of love and care, little Bella pulled through and has now grown into a beautiful and gentle tiger who is small in size, but big at heart.


Rays (Given birthday – 29 July 2009)

He (no name at that stage) was living with Bella and her brother Aries, along with 8 other tigers. To our devastation, Aries was mistaken for another tiger and killed for the tiger bone trade. Even though our hearts were broken, it was amazing to see how this remaining tiger stepped up and became a brother and friend to Bella. For this reason, Cat and Liz decided to keep him and call him Rays – to raise awareness for the tigers and the tiger bone trade, and to honour him for all the rays of light he shines in this world!

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Achilles (Born 3 August 2009)

Achilles is known as the gentle giant beacuse of his huge size and his soft heart. After 13 months of age, one of his testicles had still not descended and according to the vet this could become cancerous, and therefore he was castrated. As he was living together with Jubatus we were advised by the vets to castrate Jubatus as well to avoid possible dominancy problems. Due to the lack of testosterone neither of them has grown a mane, however, they still are the most handsomest “boys”.


Jubatus (Born 9 June 2009)

Jubatus is a split lion, which means he carries both the white and brown lion gene. At the age of 8 months Jubatus developed a Vitamin A deficiency, and due to a wrong diagnosis by the vets, he became paralysed in his back legs and needed rehabilitation on a daily basis for many weeks. Today he still gets his Vitamin A injections, but he is fully grown, healthy and you can feel his gratitude through his loving character.


Neptune (Born 8 November 2010)

Neptune’s nickname is Skapie (little lamb) as he is white as a lamb and made bleat sounds as a cub. He has grown into a gorgeous male lion with the kindest eyes, quirky personality, and your heart melts every single time he comes and “tells” you a story.


Obi (Born 27 October 2011)

Obi is a split lion, and has the most remarkable eyes! He was raised with 4 other lions, including Oliver, but was the youngest and smallest of the 5. As a young cub Obi was always the smaller and weaker of the cubs, and fell ill at about two weeks of age. His urge to fight to live pulled him through and he became the stealer of many hearts. The owners took Obi and Oliver back at 10 months of age and after 2 years, Cat and Liz went to find them. They found Obi and to their devastation saw the condition he was in. He was very thin and could barely walk, but after receiving immediate vet help, his condition started to improve slightly. He has a Vitamin A deficiency that was not treated for by his previous owners and the malnourishment contributed to this being a permanent condition. Obi will never fully recover, but with love, care and continuous medication his health can be improved and his heart and days will be filled with joy.


Oliver (Born 11 October 2011)

Oliver is a while lion, he was raised by the owners with 4 other lions, including Obi at the previous project. They had to go back to their owners at 10 months of age, but we knew the goodbye was not for forever. The owners put the boys in an enclosure with 9 other lions and left them to fend for themselves, often struggling to get their fair share of food. Thankfully, as soon as the idea of Panthera Africa was born, so was the realization that Cat and Liz can get their lion boys back! It was a hard and testing process, but now they are safely at Panthera Africa and will live out the rest of their days in prosperity.


Jade (Born 17 June 2010)

Jade and her sister Je’taime were originally raised by Lizaene at a previous project, but were separated from her when they were a year old. After 5 years of following their journey, Lizaene knew it was time to bring them home. Sadly, when Cat and Liz arrived to fetch the girls, they found out that Je’taime had been killed in a lion fight a few months earlier. Jade’s talks, pretty face and strong female presence is felt throughout the sanctuary, and she often lays on top of her house and shares her powerful voice to join the roars of the boys!


Zakara (10 August 2011)

Zakara was brought to Panthera Africa with Jade, as they had been living together at their previous home. Zakara was named by Liz and Cat, meaning of inspiration, hope, and guidance. Although she had a rough start to her life, she has a beautiful soul, and the most stunning eyes that seem to see right through you. She is quite a playful girl and loves to get enrichment, especially loving to play with tyres! As Zakara’s date of birth is unknown, she was given the birthday of August 10th – International Lion Day.


Lei-ah (17 July 2015)

Lei-ah had a bit of a troublesome start to her life and nearly passed away, but as her name indicates – she was saved by God and pulled through! Lei-ah is the pure definition of love and innocence, and when spending time with her you will be gifted by seeing everything through a child’s eyes again!


Elsa (Born 21 March 2016)

In April when we arrived at the game lodge to relocate Lei-ah, we were informed of a cub that was born three weeks earlier. She was born from the same mother and father as Lei-ah, and once again there were concerns with regards to the dad not accepting and wanting the cubs. Elsa was therefore hand-reared and immediately when we saw her we knew that she will join our pride to live with her older sister Lei-ah. Elsa is a brave and determined girl, who will share her strength and love with the rest of the lion pride!


Chaka (11 November 2016)

Chaka came from a house in Johannesburg where he was being kept as a family pet along with the children and cats/dogs. A permit is required for all indigenous animals being kept and the family did not have a permit so the authorities were able to come and take Chaka away. Johannesburg Zoo then kindly looked after him for 3 months but couldn’t take him long term as they didn’t have the capacity to keep him. So they contacted us and asked us if we would be able to give Chaka a home. We said YES and on 11th November 2017 Chaka came to the sanctuary and his forever home. Since arriving Chaka has been part of everyone’s affections. He has bonded very well with the staff here, is very confident and knows what he wants. He is a true Prince Charming!


Baguira (26 November 2007)

Baguira is our first international rescue. She has come to us all the way from Argentina. Baguira was in a circus from 6 months of age. However the circus ran out of funding and so she was never trained. Because of the lack of funding she was put in a 1.5 x 2m trailer where she spent 6 years of her life and was never let out. She was then rescued by two women in Argentina and moved into a 25sqm enclosure where she spent two years while they were searching for a forever home for her. January 2017 we started the process of getting Baguira to us and 11 months after she was finally safely with us in her new forever home. She settled incredibly quickly into her new home here, in fact she was the quickest animal to settle here. Within 5 days of being in her new home Queen Baguira started to roar. Now if that’s not a sign of gratitude and happiness I don’t know what is. Baguira is wise and kind and is forming lots of special bonds with the staff and volunteers at the sanctuary. Baguira is a beautiful queen – a queen of true love!

Alpha & Cora

Alpha & Cora (2 October 2006)

Alpha and Cora were rescued from a closed down zoo in southern Spain and taken to a wildlife rescue centre in Belgium. Born Free relocated them to Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary, where they live in the Born Free Rescue Section. Alpha and Cora are believed to be sisters and have an incredibly close bond. Alpha is the more adventurous of the two lionesses, and often nudges Cora to join her on a walk. Alpha and Cora are retired and live in the Rescue Section that is not open to the public.

Karlos & Ivana

Karlos & Ivana (given birthday 14 February 2019)

Karlos and Ivana were confiscated by the NSPCA after being found close to death at a breeding farm for lion bones in South Africa. They were immediately put into the care of veterinarian, Dr Peter Caldwell. With the support from Born Free, the courageous siblings were relocated to Panthera Africa after five months once their condition had improved. Karlos and Ivana are living in a temporary enclosure for their recovery. They are still walking with difficulty as a result of their malnutrition and lack of care as cubs, but are improving daily with the care and love they deserve. Karlos and Ivana are currently living in the Rescue Section that is not open to the public.


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Pema (4 December 2004)

Pema, and her brother, Jampa were orphaned at an early age and after a period of hand-rearing, were surrendered to a rescue centre. The centre’s hope of reintroducing them back into the wild was not succesful as they had been habituated to humans and they remained in captivity. The centre decided it was in the cheetahs’ best interest to move to Panthera Africa where they would be able to build an enclosure according to their needs and give them the special care they require, especially being older cats. Pema’s name means lotus flower – she is a real princess – elegant and precise in what she loves – she is very loving and her eyes truly speak to your soul. Being around her gives you focus and determination and the knowing that anything can be achieved if you pursue it.

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Amy (Born 4 April 2010)

Amy and her siblings were rejected by their mother and were found out in the heat dehydrated. She was the only one to survive, so at a young age she got introduced to Jack. She has grown into a proper “lady” caracal and shares her wisdom gladly if you make the time. Amy tends to keep to herself, but loves to play with toys and water.


Max (Born 26 March 2012)

Max was one of three kittens and after his brother passed away and his sister was sold, Max was alone and therefore got introduced to Pardus, the black leopard. They developed a very strong friendship, however, as Pardus grew bigger she became too strong and playful for Max. He was then introduced to Amy and Jack. After four happy years with Amy and Jack, Max started to show signs that he wanted his own space and be solitary, like caracals are in the wild, so now Prince Maximillian has gotten his own kingdom to live in for the rest of his life! Max is a loving, confident and playful young man who loves to walk and run for hours upon end!


Jack (Born 23 September 2009)

Jack was only a couple of days old when he arrived and it did not take long before Lizaene fell head over heels in love. Jack is very quiet, relaxed and loving, and he loves to rub up against objects, and always comes running when hearing voices.

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Black Backed Jackals


Cody (Born 10 August 2013)

Lucy and Cody are brother and sister and were rescued only a couple of weeks old. Their mother was killed in a veld fire on a farm and the owner of the farm tried to take care of them. However, she soon discovered that it was not easy to take care of these predators, and therefore relocated them to us. Cody is a soft hearted, yet shy boy and takes his time before warming up to people.


Lucy (Born 10 August 2013)

Lucy and Cody are brother and sister and were rescued only a couple of weeks old. Their mother was killed in a veld fire on a farm and the owner of the farm tried to take care of them. However, she soon discovered that it was not easy to take care of these predators, and therefore relocated them to us. Lucy is very skittish and keeps her distance, however comes close when treats are offered. They love to dig, play and often get into mischievous trouble.


Maya (Born 21 August 2013)

Maya and her brother were the only two to survive from a litter of four. They came at an age of 2 days and weighed approx. 109grams. Her brother died of a heart aneurysm and Maya was very sad and lonely. When Cody and Lucy arrived, it was a present sent from heaven and they soon became a little family of three. Maya has soulful eyes with a happy-go-lucky personality, and she gets overly excited every time she sees Cat and Lizaene.

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In Memoriam


Zorro (30 November 2012 – 5 December 2015)

Zorro was the true definition of kindness and compassion. His gorgeous strong features and soft heart touched hearts in an instant, and his love and powerful presence left you with an admiration and inspiration to change your own ways. Zorro loved to share his stories through the sweetest of talks, and him and Pardus were the best of friends and shared lots of playtime as well as cuddles under his favourite tree. Unfortunately Zorro passed away due to surgery complications, but his kindness and forgiveness will forever live in our hearts and inspire us in many years to come. Rest in peace, our ‘gentle giant’.


Shani (29 September 2011 – July 2016)

Shani grew up with Obi and Oliver, and was meant to join the Panthera Africa pride in March 2015. However her destiny was not as we wished for. Shani ended up in the illegal trade where she was sold from place to place, and ended up at one of the many breeding facilities in South Africa. Through our endless search for her, we found out the real truth behind the cub petting, breeding and canned hunting industry, and tragically we found out she was killed for the bone trade in June 2016. The loss of this powerful yet soft lioness has marked Cat and Lizaene’s hearts forever, yet Shani’s love, strength and heartfelt story have given these two ladies and thousands of others the willpower and courage to continue to create the vital change in the lion industry, and to have faith in a bright future for us all! Rest in peace, beautiful queen.


Jampa (4 December 2004 - 26 September 2019)

We had the privilege of Jampa’s company at Panthera Africa for a year and nine months before he passed away peacefully on 26 September 2019. Jampa came to us with his health compromised: an injury on his shoulder and very bad athritis. After an operation by Dr Peter Caldwell and the proper medication, Jampa was able to live out the rest of his life in peace and without pain. Jampa’s name means loving kindness and this is how we will remember him – his soft soul and his calming purr which opened our hearts to love. Jampa will be missed and we know that he watches over us.


Galaxy (17 April 2005 - 14 June 2021)

Galaxy was used in the film industry when he was young. Thankfully he was rescued and relocated to a place of safety where he lived a happy and contented life with his two lioness friends, Matilda, and Saturn for eleven years. But in the space of two years, he lost both his mates, and consequently all zest for life. In September 2019, Galaxy joined our pride and was able to live out the remainder of his life with the dignity and respect that he deserved. The animal carers gave him all the love and the best care possible during his last 18 months with us. Galaxy has left a massive imprint on the land and this project, and he will live on forever in our hearts.