Sophie’s Diary – July 12, 2016
I woke up this morning and met Andi in the kitchen. She was feeling ill with a fever, so I made her breakfast and gave her medicine, hoping that it would make her feel better. Andi received a message that the Love Lions Alive Project would be receiving a two-month-old cub at 11:00am. Andi asked me if I would like to go with her to collect this cub and of course I said yes! Johan also joined us for the experience. We got two feeding bottles, a blanket for him to suck on and keep him warm, several face cloths to help the cub poop. Andi had to order special puppy formula from Johannesburg called Esbilac as they don’t make formula for lions. We brought a box with us where the cub could feel safe. We went to Andi’s boyfriend’s meat factory to gather a truck so it would be easier to transport the lion. It was approximately a 45 minute drive away to gather the lion cub.
Andi rescued this cub, because the caretaker could no longer take care of it. The baby lion was given over to us and had been given calming medicine because it had already previously traveled for three hours in a wooden box. Andi took the cub and carried him in her arms to the truck. In Andi’s career of taking care of baby lions, she has been raising 25 cubs and 23 have survived. Typically only 12% of cub’s born in the wild survive so Andi has had a very high success rate in raising lion cubs. The caretaker of the lion cub informed us that the cub had been given chicken and formula. This cub chewed on her fingers so Andi knew that it had started to eat meat.
Along the car ride back to Appin Farm, Andi told Johan and I everything she knew about raising a lion cub. When a cub is very little, it has to be fed every hour. This cub is two months old and only needs to be fed every four hours. The way you feed a cub is by having it a bit up because this is how a cub would eat from it’s mother in the wild. Sometimes a pillow is used as support. Mother lions usually grab the cub by the scruff of its neck and carry it around, swinging it gently to get it to burp. As well, the mother lion licks the cub’s bottom to get it to poop. This is why we bought a face cloth today, so that we can wet the cloth and rub the cub’s bottom to get it to poop, so that it is as natural a process as possible. Andi keeps a journal for the cub documenting important information such as when the cub has last been fed and tracking its bowel movements.
We stopped at Andi’s parents house on the drive back to Appin Farm. It was very nice to meet her parents and we invited them to the inauguration of the Lööf Foundation Lion Lagoon enclosure. During the car ride, the cub was kept in the back. We left the box in the back with the cub in case it wanted to go inside the box. Once we got back to the farm Andi built a small, baby cub enclosure and set up a tent next to it for her to sleep in. She told us that the cub will have to stay here because if it was in the house there would be risk of it running out of the house. The cub will sleep with Andi in the tent during nights. Andi has been so good with the cub rubbing and talking to him the entire time. She has been giving him bottled water until the formula arrives from Johannesburg and the skin of an animal for the cub to chew on, like a pacifier. As well, she’s given him a blanket for him to suck on and keep him nice and warm at night!
I have suggested to Andi to name the cub after the Swedish King, Carl Gustaf. She seems to like the name as she has been calling him Carl during the day. She has told me she will think about keeping the name permanently.
Johan and I got to see another rare sighting on the farm today. We were sitting outside Natasha, Sasha and Moya’s enclosure and we got to see them eat! It was quite interesting to watch them!
Today has been an exciting and amazing experience! I am so grateful and thankful to have participated in this process. Today has proven why the Lööf Foundation supports the Love Lions Alive Project, because Andi saves lions from having a miserable life. Today I was a part of witnessing a baby lion be saved from a life of mistreatment and eventually hunted, so for that I am grateful!
Chairman and Founder of Lööf Foundation