Born Free Foundation has
successfully rehomed 'King' at a South African sanctuary.
International wildlife charity, Born Free, is delighted to
announce that King – a tiny cub with a mighty name – is starting
a new life in his ancestral home of Africa.
King is a
one-year-old lion cub who was rescued from an apartment in Paris
last summer where he was being kept illegally as an ‘exotic pet’
in appalling conditions.
Following a successful appeal launched in April, Born Free
will now provide King with lifetime care at its Big Cat Rescue
Centre at Shamwari Private Game Reserve, in the Eastern Cape of
King started his journey from Natuurhulpcentrum rescue
centre, Belgium, on Thursday 5th July.
From Belgium, he travelled under the care of Born Free’s
expert team to London Heathrow airport for a flight to Africa,
courtesy of Kenya Airways.
After a short internal flight, King touched down in Port
Elizabeth, South Africa, before travelling the short distance by
road to Shamwari and to his new home at Born Free’s Jean Byrd
Virginia McKenna OBE, Born Free’s Co-Founder and Trustee,
"I am sure there will be a lot of smiling faces today.
"So many people responded to our appeal to bring young King
to Shamwari, and now he has arrived.
"Thanks to everyone whose hearts were touched by his story,
he now takes his first steps on African soil, and can begin his
happy new life.
"May it be a long and peaceful one."
Shamwari has been home to Born Free’s two Big Cat Rescue
Centres for more than 20 years.
Comments Group General Manager, Joe Cloete, said:
"To be able to welcome King to his new home is incredibly
heart-warming for us, especially so during our refurbishment
process, of not only some of the lodges, but the Born Free
"Conserving a vanishing way of life and educating guests on
the importance of living in harmony with nature and wildlife is
what we strive for at Shamwari Private Game Reserve."
Born Free’s Corporate Partner, Kenya Airways, flew King to
Africa. Katrina Hanson, Kenya Airways’ Area Cargo Manager, said:
"We were delighted to assist in King’s amazing relocation to
Born Free’s Big Cat Rescue Centre at Shamwari in South Africa.
"We have worked with Born Free for many years carrying
rescued lions from Europe to Africa so they can enjoy being a
"These relocations have been a great success and we do all we
can to make it as stress free as possible for the lions. Kenya
Airways’ cargo facilities at Heathrow and across our network are
fantastic for animal welfare from the smallest and domestic, to
the mightiest of beasts.
"We were delighted to have King on board."
Swissport provided crucial logistics support for King’s
A Swissport spokesperson added:
"The Swissport team are proud to have been a part of King’s
journey to Born Free’s big cat sanctuary.
"With the help of Kenya Airways and our dedicated staff, we
hope he had a smooth journey and will enjoy his new
The sad story of King before he was rescued highlights the
plight of millions of captive wild animals around the world that
are kept as exotic pets.
"Born Free opposes the keeping of wild animals as pets.
"Wild animals, whether they have been taken from the wild or
bred in captivity, have extremely complex social, physical and
behavioural needs and are, therefore, particularly susceptible
to suffer when kept as pets.
Dr Chris Draper, Born Free’s Head of Animal Welfare &
"It is staggering that, in 2018, lion cubs are still finding
their way into the pet trade in Europe.
"We are concerned that King’s case is the tip of the iceberg,
and that a great many wild animals are being kept illegally as
pets across Europe and elsewhere.
"This situation needs to be addressed urgently, and we hope
that by introducing the world to King – his plight, his rescue
and his rehoming to lifetime care – Born Free can draw attention
to this important issue."
For over 25 years, Shamwari Private Game Reserve has been a
pioneer in nature conservation and hospitality, setting the
benchmark of superior service, luxury accommodation,
multi-generational travel and malaria-free Big 5 safaris in
the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
About Shamwari Game Reserve:
Shamwari is renowned worldwide, as leaders in conserving a
vanishing way of life and home of the Born Free Centres, Animal
Rehabilitation Centre and the Dr Ian Player Rhino Awareness
Centre, which highlights the plight of many of Africa’s
About Kenya Airways: Kenya Airways, member of the
Sky Team Alliance, is a leading African airline flying to 51
destinations worldwide, 42 of which are in Africa and
carries over three million passengers annually.
It continues to modernise its fleet with its 32 aircrafts
being some of the youngest in Africa.
This includes its flagship B787 Dreamliner aircrafts.
The on-board service is renowned and the lie-flat business
class seat on the wide-body aircraft is consistently voted among
the world’s top 10.
Kenya Airways take pride for being in the forefront of
connecting Africa to the World and the World to Africa through
its hub at the new ultra-modern Terminal 1A at the Iomo Kenyatta
International Airport in Nairobi.
Kenya Airways celebrated 40 years of operations in January
2017 and was named Africa Leading Airline 2017 by the World
Free’s mission is to ensure that all wild animals, whether
living in captivity or in the wild, are treated with
compassion and respect and are able to live their lives
according to their needs.
About Born Free:
Born Free opposes the exploitation of wild animals in
captivity and campaigns to keep wildlife in the wild.
Born Free promotes Compassionate Conservation to enhance the
survival of threatened species in the wild and protect natural
habitats while respecting the needs of and safeguarding the
welfare of individual animals.
Born Free seeks to have a positive impact on animals in the
wild and protect their ecosystems in perpetuity, for their own
intrinsic value and for the critical roles they play within the
For more information about Born Free please visit: