New rescues arrive at Drakenstein Lion Park in South Africa

Drakenstein Lion Park

New Rescues Arrive – 10-12-2009

Perita, Aneta and Suzanna arrived at the sanctuary late afternoon on 10-12-2009 after an epic journey from Romania. Their rescue and relocation was plagued by logistical problems, they were expected to arrive on 2nd December, but had to turn back shortly after the start of their journey. Frantic arrangements were made to reschedule for arrival on 9th December, but this also had to be postponed for a day later. We all breathed a great sigh of relief when they finally arrived!

The three lionesses come from an impoverished Romanian zoo where a multitude of lions are crammed into small 4 x 4 meter concrete jails (pictured below).

We were contacted in March this year and asked provide to sanctuary to as many lions from the zoo as we could. Unfortunately we were only able to offer sanctuary to three of the lions housed at the zoo as financial constraints prevented us from taking more. Arrangements were subsequently made to relocated the remainder of the lions to a zoo in the UK and the zoo in question managed to raise 1.5 million rand to cover their costs, unfortunately our fundraising efforts did not enjoy the same media attention.


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Miss World contestants pose with lion cubs, cheetahs in South Africa

NOTE: Learn more about the “play with cubs” industry in South Africa here:

Gibraltar’s Kaiane Aldorino named new Miss World at glittering pageant

Associated Press
12/12/09 11:38 PM PST JOHANNESBURG

JOHANNESBURG — Kaiane Aldorino from Gibraltar was named the new Miss World at a glittering two-hour pageant that put South Africa in the spotlight and featured traditional dancers and drummers.

The leggy brunette, dressed in white-lace evening gown, was crowned as silver confetti rained down onstage around her. She clapped her hands to her mouth when her name was announced.

“I have no words,” she said when asked to describe how she felt. “I am really happy.”

The 23-year-old administrative clerk from the British territory on the tip of the Iberian peninsula was a crowd favorite after winning the swimsuit competition.

She joined seven other contestants in the final round of the show. The loudest cheers were reserved for Miss South Africa, Tatum Keshwar who was the second runner-up.

First runner-up was Miss Mexico, Perla Beltran Acosta.

Aldorino did not give an indication of what her immediate plans were now that she had won the prestigious title.

“I will try to do the best that I can now that I have opportunity and advantage,” she said in a brief interview with The Associated Press after the event.

Gibraltar, known as The Rock, is a quirky, multicultural British outpost of 30,000 people, most of whom speak perfect Spanish and even own property along Spain’s southern Mediterranean coast. An estimated 12,000 people cross over from Spain daily to work and many more to visit.

Spain ceded sovereignty of Gibraltar to Britain in a 1713 treaty, but has persistently sought its return, claiming the territory as a natural and historic part of its geography. The outcropping is in the Strait of Gibraltar, for centuries a strategic waterway linking the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

Wearing her crown of tiny jeweled blue flowers, Aldorino said had been impressed with South Africa, which was hosting its seventh Miss World final.

“It has a lot to offer,” she said.

South Africa is taking advantage of the world’s attention as the country gears up to host the World Cup in June.

Saturday’s show, which was televised across the world, gave a taste of South Africa’s rich cultural heritage and natural attractions.

The 112 contestants were welcomed at the start by Zulu dancers and the ululating African female performers. There were clips from the finalists time in South Africa — showing the beauties cuddling cheetahs and lions, on pristine white beaches and even playing soccer.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for South Africa to showcase that they can host a world-class event and also a great tourist opportunity to show off the best that South Africa has in store,” Keshwar said.

See more photos here:


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Kansas City Zoo began with 4 lion cubs from circus

Posted on Fri, Dec. 11, 2009

KC Zoo marks centennial by looking ahead

The Kansas City Star

Just ending its first 100 years of evolution, the Kansas City Zoo — bigger, more energetic, but ever more hungry for funds — is looking ahead.

Its birthday is officially Sunday (more on that later), and the Swope Park institution is celebrating a good year of more attendance, more Friends of the Zoo memberships and more visitor satisfaction.

And with next spring’s return of a polar bear exhibit and penguins on the way in 2012, more good news is surely due to floe — er, flow — in.

Meanwhile, it was a more political animal that the Friends leadership voted this week to introduce — a new political action committee to raise money for the care and influencing of lawmakers in Jefferson City.

The private Friends of the Zoo organization, which manages the publicly owned animal park under contract with the city, wants ultimately to capture their own tax-revenue stream away from City Hall’s perennial budget pressures.

Cutbacks in the city budget forced the zoo to make do with just $3.1 million from the city this year.

“We are going to have to take drastic steps if we cannot secure funding for the zoo from the city,” said Carol Hallquist, Friends chairwoman. “We have animals to feed.”

More of them all the time. From the first four lion cubs acquired from a circus in 1909, the menagerie has grown to more than 1,000 animals.

Meanwhile, the zoo is experiencing a renaissance.

Attendance climbed back to more than 500,000 this year, up 13 percent from last year through October. Officials are projecting 600,000 visitors next year, primarily on the strength of the polar bear’s debut slated for the spring.

Dues from Friends of the Zoo memberships are up 15 percent, and the goal is to increase that by 16 percent next year. Customer satisfaction, measured through visitor surveys, also has improved in recent years.

The zoo has also been successful in raising millions of private dollars, which resulted in a carousel and a new front entrance, among other things. The $8 million penguin display to open in 2012 also will come from private money.

Smoky, shaky start

It’s a long way since its opening, which the zoo’s own history dates to Dec. 13, 1909.

A 1909-1910 report of the park board says the same thing, as does a zoo brochure that appears to be from the 1930s. This week the Kansas City Council’s resolution honoring the zoo’s 100th birthday said Dec. 13.

But old newspaper clips in park department archives show the zoo’s first century started off with a problem.

The park board had to delay the opening of the original zoo building to fix a faulty heating system that was filling its basement with smoke.

The first animals — those little lions — did not move in until nearly Christmas, and it was not until Dec. 27, 1909, that city comptroller Gus Pearson declared the new zoo in Swope Park open to visitors.

“But we have not much in the way of exhibits to show them,” Pearson acknowledged then. “The big place looks dreary with its array of empty cages, and if people who volunteered to contribute animals and birds will begin sending them in, they will be appreciated.”

A “soft opening,” as marketing folks today would say.

In the early days, that 190-by-90-foot building — which this past spring was refitted into an indoor rain forest — contained the entire zoo.

At first the collection was little more than a couple of buffalo, a fox, a wolf, a wildcat, a few monkeys and some birds.

Now the place is just over 200 acres, including its widely acclaimed and widely sprawling African exhibit.

But why quibble if Dec. 13 is not the true anniversary?

“We’ve been celebrating for almost a year now,” said Kathy Smith, head of the zoo’s centennial committee.

Tired of lean seasons

Funding for daily operations has been a challenge, and now the zoo is bracing for the Kansas City budget season.

The Friends are asking for a $4 million “management fee” next year from a city budget that is facing a $62 million deficit. The Friends’ contract had called for the subsidy to reach $5.2 million in 2010.

This fiscal year, a shrunken city subsidy still accounted for nearly 40 percent of the zoo’s revenue.

The zoo’s director, Randy Wisthoff, wants the city to issue some of the remaining bond authorization to pay for projects ahead of the zoo’s professional accreditation review next year. Fixes are needed at the veterinary building, the elephant barn and the sea lion pool.

But the acting city manager, Troy Schulte, said this week he does not want to sell any more bonds — and incur more interest debt — during the city’s current budget crunch.

Mayor Mark Funkhouser and others argue the zoo is a regional asset that should be supported regionally and not just by Kansas City taxpayers.

While the zoo does benefit from suburban memberships and from earnings taxes paid by people who work in the city but live elsewhere, Kansas City zoo supporters hope for a taxing district someday like the ones that support the St. Louis and Denver zoos.

Kansas City Zoo officials are considering three fresh funding scenarios: a metropolitan zoo district, a zoo district limited to Kansas City or a county sales tax. All would require enabling state legislation and voter approval.

Hayley Hanson, head of the Friends board’s funding committee, estimates that a one-eighth-cent sales tax in Jackson, Clay and Platte counties could generate $17 million a year.

The new political action committee is seen as a first step toward making any of those things happen.

Money raised by the political committee would have to be kept separate from zoo operations and would be subject to state disclosure laws.

“We are looking at long-term strategies and what we can do to get out from under the city,” Hanson said. “We want to have funds raised to make sure that we can push our agenda forward.”

For now, Hallquist said the Friends of the Zoo are pleased that the animal park is showing measurable improvement even in tough times.

“We feel really great about the staff here and the leadership,” she said. “Our continued struggle will be financing the zoo and keeping it in the tradition that we know it can be for the next 100 years.”


What’s new at the zoo

* The original 1909 building, left, has been transformed into the Tropics exhibit, which opened earlier this year. It features several species of monkeys and other animals.

* A polar bear — just one, to start — will inhabit a new exhibit beginning next spring. The exhibit is designed to accommodate up to three bears, but Nikita, right, on loan from the Toledo Zoo, initially will have more than 9,500 square feet to roam all by himself.

* Friends of the Zoo is raising money in hopes of opening a penguin exhibit in 2012.


Today, Sunday at the zoo
* 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Free photo with Santa with a donation to Harvesters; Tropics building.


* 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Free admission

* 10 a.m.: Proclamation and plaque dedication; Tropics building.

* Noon to 2 p.m.: Cupcakes, animal and history presentations; zoo lobby.


@ Go to for a photo gallery.

To reach Matt Campbell, call 816-234-4905 or send e-mail to


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Margay found with rope around neck rehabilitated, released in Mexico

Margay rescued at Sierra Gorda, Mexico

A young Margay (Leopardus weidii) rescued by World Land Trust partners Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda (GESG) proved quite a challenge but there was a heart warming outcome.

The kitten was found in a house, in a very distressed state with a rope around her neck.

Roberto Pedraza (GESG technical adviser) said: “As she was so young we knew we were not able to release her back to the forest straight away, so we reared her for a few months. First we fed her with milk and kitten food, then after a while some dead mice and then some alive ones.”

Roberto proudly watched over Nina, as she had become known, until he felt that she had the learned the necessary skills to survive in the wild. He added that although she liked interacting with humans, she kept her wild side. “She never became tame at all; she liked me because I was the ‘food-guy’, but she was always ferocious in her own way.”

Happily, Nina was released in one of Sierra Gorda’s Cloud forest reserves in the Hoya del Hielo area. “Previously we photographed two jaguars, one puma, an ocelot and a margay here, so it is quite the right place for her” says Roberto.

The World Land Trust’s work in Mexico has included funding the purchase of 720 hectares of land as part of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve in the state of Queretaro and work on reforestation and assisted regeneration for our carbon projects. Find out more about the projects on our Mexico page.


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Big cat areas at Edinburgh Zoo need upgrading for safety, inspectors say

Zoo upgrade ordered or sea lions will be left high and dry

Published Date: 08 December 2009

THE future of one of Edinburgh Zoo’s oldest attractions could be put at risk unless urgent repairs are carried out.

Bosses at the tourist attraction have been told that they have to either revamp the sea lion facilities or get rid of the animals altogether.

They have also been told to upgrade some facilities used by big cats when they are not on show to the public amid health and safety fears.

The repairs are among a series of upgrades that the city council has ordered the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) to complete in order to get its licence renewed in 2012.

Inspectors indicated that a lot of repair work had been put on hold while the company tried to resolve financial issues, which included its plans to build housing on part of the site.

In relation to sea lions, inspectors said: “The accommodation and water management for the sea lions must be brought up to modern standards, so as to include facilities for separation, isolation and restraint of the animals, and a high standard of water treatment and hygiene.

“An alternative strategy would be to cease to keep sea lions. Either way, this must be resolved within the lifetime of the current licence, ie three years.”

There have been concerns about the decline in the number of animals at Edinburgh Zoo.

A report published last year showed that, during 2006, there was a reduction of 200 animals as a result of death or transfers to new homes.

Among those to leave recently were two Siberian tigers, Sasha and Yuri, who were moved to the Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie last year. They were joined this year by Mercedes, the UK’s only polar bear in captivity.

The sea lion enclosure is one of the oldest at the zoo and houses Sofus, Miranda and Mona, three Patagonian sea lions from Norway.

Under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, zoos have to go through a “periodical inspection” midway through the period of their licence. The inspection team included two inspectors appointed by Scottish ministers.

As well as concerns about the sea lion facilities, inspectors also said that the “off-show” areas for big cats, particularly jaguars, have to be upgraded “to ensure staff safety, hygiene and animal welfare are not compromised by further deterioration”.

They also called for a “radical refurbishment or complete replacement” of the food store and veterinary areas of the zoo.

Overall, inspectors said that the zoo should be commended for “excellent new developments” like the Budongo Trail and said it continues to achieve “very high standards” in conservation, education, research and animal welfare.

Mark Turley, director of the city council’s services for communities department, said: “The zoo has indicated that the matters giving rise to the recommended additional conditions can be complied with within the time period recommended by the inspectors.”

No-one from the zoo was available for comment.


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