Morgan’s Diary – November 17, 2016:
I have finally touched down and made it to South Africa earlier this morning! Line from Norway came to pick me up and we had around a three hour drive to the lion Sanctuary. It’s so beautiful here, with the ground so flat you can see forever, but then you also have smaller mountains that come out of nowhere. Not to mention the heat here is much nicer compared to the snow and cold back in Sweden.
We drove up to the Love Lions Alive Sanctuary and you just see this huge mountain towering over you as you drive up. We parked and went to find Tale who is also from Norway. We found her and a few other workers helping with the water project within the enclosures. It has been so dry here in South Africa that even though it rains at night, it doesn’t last throughout the day. Therefor it is important to create a better water system throughout the enclosures so they have enough water to make it natural for the lions. So they have started to put ditches in where pipes will be laid and also a small watering hole in one enclosure to make it natural for the lions. This will be one of my main tasks to help with as they want this done by next Thursday.
The vet is coming to give the lions their shots and also dart some of them next Thursday, as Andi’s vision is to move some of the Lions into different enclosures. For example she wants to move Sasha, Moya and Natasha to a bigger enclosure.
After we saw them working on the water project, we went down to where Martin, a volunteer from Australia was sitting on a rock watching Mela. He was the first lion I saw here, and he literally took my breath away. Even though I was far away from him, there was such a beauty in just seeing him lounging on a rock, being a big magnificent cat. Then I met Andi for the first time! I think I was a little star struck to be honest! I have read so much about her, followed her work and watched her documentary that it was such an honor and absolute privilege to finally meet her in person.
I headed up with Andi to the top enclosure to meet Sasha, Moya and Natasha. As we drove up I saw Mandla’s head in the bushes in the Lööf Foundation Lion Lagoon enclosure, I almost didn’t see her because she blended into the grass to well. When we saw Sasha, Moya and Natasha they came and rubbed right up against the enclosure to greet Andi and I. Andi told me to lick my lips when I first see them as a sign of saying hello. She said they lick their lips to say hello and if you don’t do it back it’s the same as if someone smiled at you and you don’t smile back.
Then we went over to Carl’s enclosure! He is so big compared to the pictures I saw of him from this summer! His paws are huge! He came out and said hi to Andi and I. I sat on the ground and he came over to play, testing the limits with me. He started playing with my arm and his nails are sharp! Then he tried to play with my feet, but Andi said to just take a few steps away if he tries. Then we went and said hello to the newest addition to the Sanctuary, Odin and Mulan!
Odin is ten and a half weeks old and Mulan is twelve weeks old. Odin was very dehydrated, and weak when he first came here because he wasn’t taken care of properly by his previous owner. Now you can’t tell at all, he is the most cuddly, whiney animal I’ve ever seen. He has little darker spots on the top of his head and less black fur behind his ears than Milan had. Line and I prepared bottles for Odin and Mulan and I got to feed Odin his bottle as Mulan is a bit more “cheeky” (getting into trouble) than Odin is. I held Odin in my arms and he drank his bottle very quickly! Then Line said he really likes to suck on your finger, a self soothing habit Andi had told me. So I let him suck on my finger for a while. It was the cutest, most loving experience I’ve encountered with an animal.
We headed down the mountain to the house where I will be staying and a huge thunder and lightening storm came through. It was so beautiful to witness, with light still shining down through clouds and purple lightening all around us. Apparently the lions love thunderstorms and the rain!
Andi made us dinner tonight, and we all sat around chatting while Odin sucked on Line’s finger and Mulan tried to chew up a pillow but eventually fell asleep on the couch. It was great sitting around talking about the Lions and hearing stories! So happy I’m here and absolutely fascinated, blown away and in love with these lions already. Tomorrow I will start bright and early to help Martin, Line and Tale with the water project! So now it’s bedtime for me, as I’m quite tired from my travels!
Lööf Foundation representative