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.