Morgan’s Diary – November 24, 2016
I was so fortunate to experience so many new things today. My morning started early as there was a cow that had been struck by lightening yesterday. Andi was called to come and get this cow for the lions, so Martin, Line and I drove out to the farm to get it. It was quite swollen, and it looked so big. I helped them load it onto the back of the truck to drive back to the sanctuary.
Once we got back, we unloaded it and Becky, one of the South African workers here showed me where to cut and how to cut. It was a smelly, dirty, and sometimes digusting process, but it is one that has to be done for the lions to eat. I am sure I would become used to the smell after awhile, but today was my first time.
Once we finished, we cleaned up and then took a break as Johan the vet was coming at 2:00. He arrived earlier than two and we all gathered to make a plan. Johan and Andi went into the Lööf Foundation Lion Lagoon enclosure to dart Mandla and Isibindi. The rest of us, Line, Tale, Zoi, Martin and the workers stayed on the outside of the enclosure to alert Johan and Andi where the lions were. Eventually Johan got them both darted. I helped load Isibindi onto the back of the truck first.
While Johan and the others went to load Mandla onto the back of the truck, I was left alone to monitor Isibindi for signs of waking. If he started to wake I was supposed to call Andi. Fortunately he had no signs, but my heart was still racing! It is one thing to see a lion in the enclosure from far away, but another to be standing right next to one. They are so big and absolutely magnificent creatures. Isibindi’s paw was double the size of my hand, the power and strength that lions have is like no others.
I rode on the back of the truck with Andi, Becky and Isbindi to enclosure one. We unloaded them inside, then Johan gave them an antidote to wake up. They woke after around 5-10 minutes and looked good. Then we headed up the mountain to tend to the other lions. Johan gave the babies, Odin and Mulan their micro chip, as the legally need to have one. Then he did a check on Carl and gave him his vaccine shot.
Next Johan darted Nastasha, then Sasha and Moya right after. We waited around 10-15 minutes for the lions to lay down and sleep. Once they were asleep we went in and took Sasha out first and loaded him onto the back of the truck. When we went back in to get Natasha, Moya started showing signs of waking, slightly snarling and raising his head. We waited, and then when Johan said it was okay, we gathered Natasha and put her on the back of the truck with Sasha.
We went back to get Moya, and he was still showing signs of waking so we waited again as Johan and Andi were instructing us the whole time. When to move, not to make loud noises as the lions can hear everything even when they are asleep. Once Johan said we were clear to get Moya we put him on the net for us to carry him on. These lions were not light to carry! It took around nine people just to carry one lion.
We were walking with Moya to load him onto the back of the truck and I was helping carry near his head. All of a sudden he made a snarling noise and started to move his head and then legs. We all stopped suddenly and let him down as he was waking up as we were carrying him! He jumped up and started walking towards a rock where he sat down and then laid down and started to doze off again. I have never in my life been so scared, excited and amount of adrenaline pumping through my body. Just the realization that I was in an enclosure with a lion that was waking and moving around intrigued and terrified me at the same time. Johan went over to Moya and gave him a second dose. Moya fell asleep for good and we were able to load him onto the truck and drive down to enclosure three where they will now stay.
It was so cool because Andi showed us the end of their tails that have a very small claw hidden amongst the hair. I had no idea that lions have a small claw at the end of their tail until today. Andi and Johan checked their teeth, claws and bodies for anything unusual and they all received their vaccines. After checking them, every lion is healthy and happy! In total it took us around three hours to dart and move five lions. I was extremely impressed with Johan’s work today and how efficient, caring and professional he was with the lions today. After all the lions were moved, Mandeeli, Zoi, Line and I went to feed all the lions with the meat I helped cut up today.
All the lions were settling in and exploring their new homes. I think all of the lions will be happy with the move and adjust to their new environments easily!
I would like to extend a huge thank you to Andi Rive, for allowing me the opportunity to take part in such an amazing experience today with the lions and to allow me to work with her fantastic team! I truly could not have asked for a better day here at the Love Lions Alive Sanctuary!!
Lööf Foundation representative