The Spanish lion cubs arrived in Johannesburg on Friday 31st October. It was a blazing hot day on the highveld. The CACH team met at the cargo section of OR Tambo airport. Linda Park, Drew, Stephanie, Chris Voets and Smaragda were all there. The air cargo section is narrow and congested, with huge trucks moving in and out of the area. There we chatted with the Lufthansa cargo agent who told us that they were well aware of the cubs’ arrival and were going to clear a parking place for Kevin and the Land Rover that would collect our precious container.
So off we all went to the airport terminal to meet CJ & Luis. We sat down together and had a meeting because this was the first time I had met them all. We discussed the coming year and how we would tackle the cub petting industry. Time seemed to fly because before we knew it we had to go to International Arrivals for CJ & Luis.
Well eventually there they were and at last we met face to face. Their flight was on time and when the greetings were over, we moved off quickly to go back to cargo to see the arrival of the cubs.
My cousin, Lynn, had very kindly taken me to the airport and would drive me back to cargo. We left the team to get our vehicle and on the way I managed to lose our parking ticket. So of course we could not get out of the parkade. I had to then run to the end of the parking area to the office to get another ticket to get us out. All that for R20. Phew that was hectic. The universe was conspiring against me and I was afraid that I would miss seeing the two little chaps I had been thinking about constantly for three months. We eventually arrived at air cargo too late to see the cubs, amongst the absolute chaos of so many huge trucks all trying to squeeze into impossibly small spaces.
By the time Lynn and I got there, the Land Rover was already loaded with the cubs. Kevin was there supervising the loading and tying the container onto the back of the vehicle. A crowd had gathered around the cubs; curious at the cargo. Most of the onlookers had never seen a lion before. I did not get to see the cubs as there was a bamboo curtain covering the wire.
It was now nearly midday and very hot. I felt so sorry for the cubs. So it was important to get on the road without delay. Before long we were off in convoy to take the cubs to Kevin’s sanctuary at Dinokeng, which is north of Pretoria.
On arrival Kevin and his rangers set about off-loading the heavy crate. It was so awkward to try and manouver off the back of the Land Rover. It took about six guys to lift it out and onto the ground.
The container was beautifully built to IATA specs, with a cleverly designed water system installed. There was still water in the little dishes.
The first sighting of the cubs was an incredible feeling for me. I could not believe that they had at last arrived. It had sometimes seemed that it would never happen, with all the delays waiting for all the permits. Yame was very calm, curious and showed little stress – a good traveller. He stood at the entrance of his container quietly looking at all that was going on.
Not so little George. He was extremely stressed, pacing about and crying. Sadly the container had to have a wire separation between the cubs and during the trip George had rubbed against the wire to get to his brother. We think because of the cataracts he is not seeing so well and is relying mainly on touch. So his little face was rubbed raw.
As soon as the container was on the ground Kevin opened the door and let them out. What an amazing moment, to see these two little lion cubs, born in France, and rescued in Spain, now step onto the grass safe in South Africa. Wow! Kevincalled to the cubs and they followed him like they had always known him. Apparently he had bonded with them right from his first meeting with the cubs at the airport.
We left them to wonder around, Yame exploring their new environment and little George right behind him. Kevin said we must just leave them to get a feeling for their new environment. He led them to a beautiful enclosure, built especially for them, where there was a wonderful big pond full of fresh water.
The cubs explored the garden, but were exhausted and eventually they walked into a house near the enclosure and collapsed onto the cool stone floors. There they stayed for hours, sleeping. When they woke up they decided to re-arrange the bedroom. Fluffy cat toy and cushions were dragged off the bed and chewed on, the Persian carpet was christened with a pee and the blanket was dragged around the room. These Spanish lions need to learn some manners!
We took them into their enclosure for water and to give them food. Yame ate and drank well. Little George was still too stressed, he drank a little but would not eat. He seemed not to like our South African chicken or beef. Well who can blame him. I don’t like them either, but I am vegetarian
Again Kevin had to tell everyone not to stress and to leave the cubs and that George would need more time than Yame to adjust. Kevin spent some quality time with them as you see in this video.
Because the weather was so fine and warm the cubs were due to sleep outside. But the wind picked up and the rangers felt that because of the noise of the wind and the strange animal sounds, that the cubs would be more comfortable inside where they would feel safer. So their first night they slept in a beautifully prepared room with new straw as their bed.
That night the Welgedacht team of rangers and volunteers from around the world gave us a lovely poitjie dinner in the lapa around a big fire. We met the owner of Welgedacht, Gerald, and had a lovely evening, and for me the only vegetarian there, they had prepared a special poitjie.
I was emotionally exhausted when we eventually went off to bed, to the bush camp which was a few kilometres away from where the cubs will live. Do go to the Welgedacht website and you will see how well we were cared for and how beautiful is the area that the cubs will live in.http://www.welgedachtsafaris.com/
The next morning we were taken back to see the cubs. Yame was up and about and very settled. Not so George. Still stressed and exhausted, he was walking around with his head held low as if he was trying to see over the cataracts in his eyes, dropping to the ground in a very sad little heap. I was so worried about him. Again Kevin and Jade, the ranger that will care for the cubs, told us not to worry that all he needed was time and a quiet place to collect himself and get used to his new environment.
We left the cubs to settle down with no one around and went with Jade and her volunteers to go and feed the lions, hyena and leopard living at the Sanctuary. What a fantastic experience. We saw some of the most beautiful animals in superb condition. The enclosures are well-designed with a very good and safe system to feed all these animals. We then helped the team to clean the enclosures. Picking up old bones and poo. I think I was the one who found the most poo and wanted to be crowned poop queen, but decided I would not push the issue because I was sure they would find a poop crown for me.
Late that afternoon, CJ eventually managed to get George to eat a little chicken laced with milk. We were all thrilled; the corner seemed to have been turned.
Next morning, Sunday, CJ and Luis went off early with the rangers to see the area. I did not go because I was leaving to go home at midday. So I went to see the cubs. Wow what an amazing change in George. Jade had fed him before I had arrived. George had not only eaten well but had also had a lot of liquid. Being dehydrated had affected his sight and now after good food and lots of water there was a little lion who was almost back to normal.
What a change, I was amazed, and thrilled, and relieved. I spent the morning at a very quiet enclosure, nobody around. CJ& Luis were away with the rangers, and the volunteers were off doing their daily chores.
The cubs were relaxed, played a little, then climbed onto the roof of their little den and slept through the heat of the morning. I sat in the heat with a little ginger cat on my lap just soaking up the quiet of the African bush and watching two very lucky little lions sleeping contentedly on their new den for hours. It was just the most tranquil time and I felt so privileged to be a part of this rescue of two little abused animals and to have met the wonderful people who will care for them for the rest of their lives.
Drew and her husband Brian, came to fetch me and we spent time with Jade while she again fed the cubs. Yame woolfed his food down and was quite prepared to do the same with George’s. We managed to occupy him with a bowl smeared with milk which he had to take time to completely lick clean, while George ate a very good lunch coached along by Jade. George is still not that fond of our SA chicken, and will have none of our beef.
So when I left I was very content, happy that the cubs had arrived and adjusted to their new home. It is a beautiful reserve with a team that is dedicated to their care and future.
Thank you Kevin, Gerald and the Welgedacht rangers for preparing a wonderful home for these little chaps. Thank you Jade for your gentle and patient care. They are truly a very lucky pair of lion cubs indeed.
Thank you to the CACH team because without you none of this would ever have happened.
Friday, 31st October 2014
Saturday, 1st November 2014
Sunday, 2nd November 2014
Well, I see everyone is still working on a few loose ends which I´m not paying much attention to. I´m packing my clothes and have one foot out the door.
The cubs cannot wait to meet their Auntie Bev and Uncle Chris and most of all, to meet you Kevin, the wonderful human being who is going to love them to pieces and give them such a great life. So much to tell you about - just who they are and how much fun they have been.
I cannot wait either. I keep pinching myself that this is really happening to me. Tomorrow will be my last day at the center with my boys. I am going to miss them so much but feel so happy that they have such an amazing life ahead of them.
So, see you soon. Saying my prayers that there will be no more glitches.
CJ from Spain
The Spanish lion cubs, Yame and George, will arrive at the airport in Johannesburg on Friday 31st Oct, in the morning. They will be met by Bev and Linda from CACH, Kevin of course and documentary film producers as well as CBS News.
FROM YAME AND GEORGE
We have been told that we already have all the permits and the tickets to go to our new home in South Africa with Kevin. We are a bit nervous since we have never flown before. We are kind of anxious on one hand to know our new home but on the other hand we are sad that we have to say good-bye to so many people that have been helping us during these last three months of our lives. Well, we believe that you also, our friends, have been helping us with your donations.
Now, if you don´t mind, (as we have been taught by our surrogate parents, CJ and Luis), we would like to recognize the people in Spain that have been responsible for us and taken care of us directly and made it possible for us to get well and have a wonderful future to look forward to.
We are going to start backwards from the center where we are now, and where we have spent the majority of these past three months, since our rescue from that abusive and evil woman in Alicante.
Many thanks, Maribel, Ricardo, Tato y Tete Peralta for taken us into your center Fauna y Acción, so generously and so unconditionally (www.faunayaccion.com). We want to make a special mention of Tete and Pati his wife. They have taken care of us early every morning and late every night. They have given us the love and affection that we needed when our surrogate parents were not there. We are never going to forget you, Tete and Pati, and we are hoping to see you in South Africa sometime in the future.
Thank-you also, to the caretakers of the animals in the center, Lucia Cabezuelo, Deborah del Rio, Debora Acevedo and Javi Denso. Ah! Diego y Rocío, thank you so much as well. Also thanks to Diana, administrator and all the volunteers and the veterinary/biology students in the center that have played with us in the playground every day and to all of you who have walked with us through the hills and up the mountain. Thank you Luis and Eli for your visits every Saturday.
We want to give special thanks to our veterinarians Joaquin Cerdeira from Centro Veterinario Aluche Las Aguilas (www.centrovetaluchelasaguilas.com) and Marino Garcia, from Clínica Veterinaria Taymir in Paracuellos (facebook). Your generosity, commitment, veterinary care and medical treatments have saved our lives.
Many thanks, Raul Merida, from the Foundation Raul Merida in Alicante (www.fundacionraulmerida.es). You picked us up from Seprona when we were finally released from that terrible woman and you took care of us during our first week of freedom at your Sanctuary. You helped so much with all the paper work that needed to be processed in order to allow us to move forward and have another chance with our lives. And Pilar, from the Society for Animal Protection in Benidorm (www.spapbenidorm.com), thank-you as well for helping keep Luis and CJ up to date on what was happening to us while they were working hard to get custody of us.
Also, special thanks to the officers from Seprona (Special Service of the Guardia Civil for the Protection of Nature), and to the staff of Customs Alicante, Cites in Alicante and Cites Central in Madrid. Your support and genuine concern for our safety has made it possible for us to look forward to a better life with Kevin Richardson and return to our origins in South Africa.
And finally we want to say thanks to all our friends around the world that have given donations, sent best wishes and prayed to help us heal and help get us home. We hope by becoming ambassadors for our brothers and sisters that have suffered so much and are now gone and to those that are yet to suffer the same fate, that our story will help inspire people to join hands together around the globe uniting us in our mission to change the hearts of people who have not understood our suffering. Time is running out.
We would also like to thank those people in South Africa who have worked hard to make it possible to give us a forever home there. Thanks goes to Linda who put CJ and Luis on our trail. A really big thank you to Kevin Richardson the lion whisperer. He immediately agreed to take us in when asked if he would give us a home. See you soon, our new adventure in Africa begins.
For photos of all the kind people in Spain who looked after us please go to this link...
Why do bad things happen to good people? Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to Alexa for the tragic loss of the love of her life in a motor accident.
We are sure she will survive and find a way to turn a negative in to a positive.
Like she did with Serabie, the lion cub she rescued from the canned hunting industry. Here is the whole story in her video.
Actually it is two stories; one about the rescue of a lion cub, and the other about how to create a positive outcome from a negative experience.
Courage, Alexa. Our thoughts are with you.
BARK IN THE PARK
GMFERL (Global March for Elephant, Rhino and Lions) took place in George, South Africa on 4th October 2014.10.04.
We agreed with the Garden Route SPCA that we would combine our march with their annual Bark in the Park, a dog walk followed by a Dog Show in the beautiful setting of the Botanical Gardens.
An estimated 250 people attended along with 110 dogs of all shapes and sizes.
Watch the video of the start of the walk here….
Banners, posters and placards were provided by CACH and the pupils of York High School Animal Club. Thanks to Susan Bryson and Gillian Tett from the school for making the childrens' school project posters available for our event.
Good support was also given to the march by the Eden and Sedgefield Lions Club. Thanks Debbie and Carl.
More video here….
The local George Herald newspaper gave good coverage of the march and the plight of Eles, Rhino and lions.
Combining marches with other animal welfare orgs such as the SPCA is much more effective in getting one’s message across, in a friendly, supportive community atmosphere.
SPCA BARK IN THE PARK SATURDAY 4TH OCTOBER AT THE BOTANICAL GARDENS
GARDEN ROUTE SPCA JOINS UP WITH THE GLOBAL MARCH FOR ELEPHANTS AND RHINO,
AND CACH (CAMPAIGN AGAINST CANNED HUNTING)
Global March - George and Wilderness, South Africa.
There will be lots going on at the Botanical Gardens on Saturday 4th October.
Apart from the usual enjoyable Bark in the Park dog walk in the forest, and the Fun Dog Show afterwards,
our SPCA is being joined by the groups marching against Canned Lion Hunting, and the saving of elephants and rhinos.
See the life size Rhino puppet which will be marching with us when we start the walk.
The Botanical Gardens Spring Plant Sale is also on the day, as well as the Friday before. There will be a tea room with yummy refreshments.
Registration for the Bark in the Park walk starts at 8am near the Tea room, and the walk will start at 9am, joined by the march for lions, elephants and rhinos.
The fun dog show will start at 10.30.
Enquiries:: Heather 072 877 2911
This is the reality behind the cruelty of cub petting.
What an amazing experience this has been for myself and Luis. I thought I had seen a lot during my time working as a vet assistant, rehabilitator, and a number of other jobs for GREFA's wildlife hospital in Madrid. This however, has been more about helping put the pieces of a broken animal back together. This has been about mending the spirit and healing the hearts of two little lion cubs who have gone beyond the abuse and cruelty inflicted upon them by greed and mean-ness.
When we first laid eyes on Cach, (Yame), and Spain (George), we saw just that. Two broken little bodies with hollow saddened eyes and no knowledge of what true kindness and compassion could feel like. At Raul Merida's wildlife sanctuary in Alicante where we found them, they were experiencing for the first time what it meant to have peace in their lives and freedom from being exploited day in and day out.
During the last few weeks, both Yame and George have received the best care both physically and emotionally from so many wonderfully kind people. It was obvious and confirmed that they had suffered a great deal and the proof of that was very apparent in their physical and emotional condition. Both had metabolic bone disease, bacterial infections, kidney and liver conditions, hair loss, lice, poor body condition, undersized for age appropriateness, severe weight loss, and so on. Their poor diet and constant manipulation had brought them to the brink of collapse.
They are now both recovering well. Yame more than George. George most likely was exposed to more physical abuse than Yame and possibly suffered a severe blow to his front leg or had a hard fall from a high place. You can see his little cast on his leg in some of his pictures. He is now experiencing an accumlative reaction to the constant photo flashes in his eyes - in other words Cataracts - which can also be seen in some of his pictures. We have him on a special supplement of amino acids that the vet has told us will rid him of this problem and he should be fine in time. At the moment the little darling has his problems trusting his own sense of direction which his brother takes advantage of whenever he can. At one point, George was suffering so much pain that he spent a great deal of his time tucked away in his transport box. He is now feeling so much better that I hardly see him enter his transport anymore.
Yame has grown a great deal and is now looking his part - a real lion. As rough and tough as he tries to act he is very sweet. George, although much smaller, has the character of a true leader and ROARS whenever he sees fit. They both have received a lot of love and although this might make some question IS THIS CUB PETTING? - the answer is not at all. When little ones like these two miss out on the natural affection and learning experiences from their mothers and their pride, they need to learn by another source what this emotion means and feels like and what the benefits of having love can provide; making the difference between a well adjusted lion and one not so. I have to admit they have been getting lots of kisses from me.
Video of the cubs playing: https://www.dropbox.com/l/Yq3XntkFw8N3n1gJe83udq
During our play time together, they have torn up three of my shirts and a pair of tennis shoes. They have also destroyed three large beach towels, (which they use for practicing their hunting skills), by dragging them around their so called den - growling and roaring. They have several toys, which they fight over. Their favorite game is "Leap Frog" although George can't quite get over my back. Both are very much aware now that there is an "outdoors" and they wait longingly for someone to leave the door open which means "time for a walk outside". Although George is the smallest and needs more muscle build up, he always takes the lead in "catch me if you can".
Here are some more pictures. Hope you enjoying looking at them as much as we enjoyed taking them.
CJ and Luis
A number of donors have inquired about an accounting for the funds raised. We repeat our message from previous blogs that once the whole exercise is complete and the cubs are safely settled at Kevin's Sanctuary, a final accounting will be published on our blog detailing all expenditure. We are not quite there so please keep the donations coming. In the unlikely event that we raise a surplus of funds for the rescue, that surplus will be paid over to Kevin Richardson who will be giving the cubs life time care.
We repeat that these funds are for the relocation of the cubs, not for CACH.
We would like to share the Centre and the wonderful young people who are caring for the two Spanish cubs with you.
Here you have a view of the Center Fauna y Accion, where the cubs are currently recovering. As you can see, everything is all about nature. The cubs are enjoying the sounds of all types of wildlife.
These are the pictures of four amazing people in the Center that we call “our angels”. They have been instrumental in helping us get these cubs on the road to recovery. Their names are: Tete Peralta, (one of the owners of the Center), and his lovely wife Pati. Both are extremely knowledgeable and experienced in the care and management of wildlife welfare.
Also, Diego Perez, finishing his career in Biology and Rocío Peralta, the cousin, a last year student in veterinary medicine. More about them and the Center later.
From CJ & Luis
Please continue with your donations to help us with the good food and veterinary costs involved in caring for the two little cubs. Soon we will have freight and transport costs too. We are so grateful to everyone who has donated, thank you.