Here´s a look at the cub´s "den". They are very protective of it. We call it "area one". It´s rather like a small flat. One side has cement flooring with two large tree stumps in the middle that they love to sit on and watch the world outside go by. The other side has outdoor artificial grass on the floor which we put down especially to have an area where George could walk that would not bother his foot sores.
Changing bandages caused a lot of stress for him and it was decided anyway that the air was better to help his sores form scabs. This mission has been accomplished.
We decided to leave the grass in place as the boys like going from one room to another and they are very much aware of the difference in flooring. They love the grass area for nap time and bed time. We have left a transport in this area as well so they get used to going in and out of it - hopefully helping them make the trip to SA easier. There are windows on both sides of their flat and one door at each end. We are able to close off one side from the other as there is a gate in between the areas. Of course, Yame is now able to climb over the gate and does so as often as he sees fit - especially during feeding time when he has finished his own meal and wants to have his brother´s as well. He knows when he is being a naughty boy by the guilty look on his face but it doesn´t discourage him. “I didn´t eat his food. I really didn´t!” Yame eats well. He loves his meat and no longer wants his bottle. George went from proper full diet bottle feedings to bottle feedings containing pureed chicken. He would have it no other way - was not ready to be pushed - but is now eating solid meat but still likes at least one bottle a day. He is not, as of yet, an enthusiastic eater but we know he soon will be.
Area two is right in front of their den. This is where we take them for exercise. They have a great time here - playing and just being lions jumping on each other fighting and growling. Yame, more than George, gets very nervous if someone passes by his den and he is not there. He watches very carefully to make sure they do not go inside and if they do, he begins to complain. After all, it is his territory and nobody should be messing around over there without his permission. He is very clear on this point. He considers a few of us as part of his pride and we come and go as we like. Both of the boys love attention and need having their pride members near them - even if the only thing we do is sit on the floor or nap with them. More often than not, they insist that we tug with their towels and drag them around. The towels become prey at times and they guard them as they would a kill.
Area three involves opening the den´s doors to the outdoors, getting picked up and carried off to the hills. Once there - a short distance away from the den, they are put down and off they go. In spite of George´s physical challenges he has no problem keeping up or taking the lead. They usually get a good hour twice a day either in their play area or roaming the hills.
We took the cubs to the veterinarian today to repeat their X-rays and blood work. It has been a few weeks now since their original tests were done. It has taken us a lot of time to get little George to eat solid meat. It hasn´t been determined if this is due to his maybe having been exploited to the public more than Yame because of his smaller size or his inability to cope with the cruelty as well as Yame did. Personalities and character can play a large part in this kind of abuse as well. You will recall that their diet for a very long time was watered down improper milk replacement in an attempt to keep them smaller longer. This kind of treatment always ends up in metabolic bone disease. (Have a look at our web site - look at the pictures of the lions in breeding farms/factories on canned hunting websites as well and you will see that metabolic bone disease exists in almost all of the animals. You can see it in the splaying of their legs and turned out feet.) There is the possibility that although their passports indicate their birthdate is the same, they may not be brothers and the so called original owner deliberately messed around with their documents. Just the same, they stick together like two postage stamps. One will not be without the other and if forced to do so, a very big and unpleasant fuss develops.
So, having talked with the veterinarian regarding yesterday´s exam, we can report the following:
George had a severe case of cataracts. The cataracts have almost disappeared completely and will in time be gone. He is seeing much better now and his active behavior is proof that he is now able to get around with confidence. (you can see them in his eyes in photos above)
Remember, George was in such a bad way as far as his metabolic bone disease was concerned. All four of his legs and feet were like rubber. He could not walk very far without having to sit down.
Yame´s front feet were also in a similar condition. His legs and feet were stronger than George´s but the swelling around his joints were very noticeable - like George.
The first X-rays showed large gaps and spaces where there was no bone growth at all. All due to a non-existent proper diet. Watered down powdered milk doesn´t provide much of anything.
We are happy to report that their Vet said the blood analysis all returned normal. No more bacterial infections, viral infections, kidney or liver disorders, cataracts are healing, etc., etc. They are beginning to form new bone where there was once empty gaps and spaces. This metabolic bone disease recovery will take some time before they are well again, but with good care and continued proper diet they will eventually get there.
We are all so happy about this good news. They have a long way to go yet but we now feel confident that they are moving in the right direction.
That´s all for now, apart from I know if these little boys could speak for themselves, they would say “Thank-you all of you for your love and kindness in helping us get well again”.
CJ & Luis
Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the animal welfare community we have almost reached our target of US$15,000.
Please continue to spread the word and help us raise the full amount to bring them home
In particular we would like to thank Ange Lemon and her Australian NGO Painted Dog Conservation Inc who have been outstanding fundraisers for the the two cubs. We shudder to think how we would have raised the funds without them.
We would also like to thank Simone Eckhardt's NGO SPOTS in The Netherlands. Quite apart from their generous donation for the cubs, SPOTS is leading the thrust in Europe to educate the travel and tour industries about the link between cub petting and canned hunting.
We will not mention individual donors by name, but Cango Wildlife Ranch in SA also contributed substantially to the rescue of the two cubs.
To the 90 or so members of the animal welfare community who donated what they could afford, with your support, both financial and on social media, you helped make the rescue of the cubs a reality.
Remember that the two cubs are ambassadors for their kind and symbols of the evils of cub petting, so please keep posting and tweeting about them to raise awareness. We have a long way to go to end this evil industry. We can do it with your help.