Lion rescued from French circus dies at S. African reserve

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29 March 2007

Following the successful rescue of the 3 circus lions, Djunka, Nala and Shada from France in November last year carried out with our friends and colleagues at One Voice, it is with great sadness that we have to report that Djunka, the magnificent male, has died.

Despite his 15-17 years of age, Djunka was a strong lion and his health had significantly improved during his 5 months in Shamwari [Reserve in South Africa]. So the unexpected news of his death is, in a sense, all the more distressing, and came as a great shock to us all.

Yesterday morning, the 28th March, Born Free received a message from the Big Cat Care Team in Shamwari saying that they had found his body in his enclosure. A post mortem was carried out at once and revealed that he almost certainly died as a result of a snake bite – possibly a Cape Cobra.

Shamwari is a wild land and the whole point is to offer our lions a semi-wild existence. However, there are other creatures which share the environment, including some poisonous species of snake which live naturally amongst the rocks and undergrowth. Incidents with snakes are thankfully rare but it would appear from the evidence we have that Djunka was bitten and then retreated into the middle of his enclosure where he died.

Everyone at Born Free, One Voice, and everyone at Shamwari is terribly upset by the news. Yesterday we were all, quite simply, lost for words.

However, we thought it important that you know what happened at the earliest opportunity and to advise you that Djunka has been buried at the Rescue Centre.

His life in the circus was, certainly, one of deprivation. His 5 months at Shamwari must have been liberating. He is now at rest in Africa.

Shada, the younger female, is in fine health and Nala, the older lioness, while she will never overcome her kidney condition, is more than holding her own and we hope has some quality time ahead of her at Shamwari.

But we will never forget Djunka.

If you would like further information or to send a message then please write to

For the full story of the Three Lions’ rescue from a circus in France please click here. no_cache=1&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=44

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