LIONSROCK has officially been opened!
On February 16, FOUR PAWS has celebrated the grand opening of its big cat sanctuary LIONSROCK. The event took place exactly three months after the arrival of the first group of European lions saved from poor living conditions.
LIONSROCK is the fourth animal sanctuary of FOUR PAWS. Located three hours from Johannesburg, the shelter is already home to 36 lions, a Bengal tiger, two leopards, two caracals, two wild dogs and a wide range of wildlife.
Premier Beatrice Marshhoff spoke in front of 300 international guests, including FOUR PAWS founder & CEO Heli Dungler and many benefactors of the project.
One year ago, on 1 February 2007, FOUR PAWS embarked on this unique project, enabling the protection of big cats which were born and kept in exploitive and often abusive captivity.
The first phase of the project, consisting of the first unit of five lion enclosures, enclosures for leopards, tigers and caracals – including the entire related infrastructure – was completed in November 2007, shortly before the arrival of the first new inhabitants.
The modern standards and design embodies the entrenched policy of LIONSROCK: hunting, breeding or trading of predators is strictly prohibited. The area offers large sections for animals living in family groups, while enrichment measures encourage natural behaviour. High standards of medical care have also been established.
The respective extent of the new lion habitats is roughly 25 hectares each. The total area of the farm amounts to 1242 hectares.
After three months in Africa, the new inhabitants have settled in well. Visitors at the opening have been able to witness how comfortably the European lions roam about in their new home.
“They finally live with the peace and dignity they deserve. We hope that LIONSROCK will be the future home of many such big cats from South Africa and abroad”, said Dr. Amir Khalil, the international project manager of FOUR PAWS, referring to future possibilities. Thousands of South African lions might have to be euthanized once the new regulation against canned lion hunting kicks in – unless alternatives can be provided by shelters such as LIONSROCK.
The project has been endorsed by the Department of Tourism, Environment and Economic Affairs of the Free State Province.