Monday, 06 July 2015 00:00

Born Free’s Bid to Rescue Bulgaria’s Last Two Circus Lions Featured

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Caged in a metal beast wagon, Born Free wants to rehome Jora and Black to South African sanctuary

Washington D.C., July 6, 2015 -- Today, an appeal for the rescue of Bulgaria's last two circus lions was launched by the Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA, in a bid to secure their relocation to the international wildlife charity's sanctuary at Shamwari, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.

Jora and Black (due to the latter’s distinguishing black mane) are two, seven-year-old lions known to be brothers. They are caged in a metal beast wagon in the back yard of an ex-circus trainer's remote mountain lodge near the capital, Sofia.  With no readily available water supply or shade, and pending summer temperatures that will turn their barred container into oven temperatures, these animal’s terrible plight has made international headlines and pulled at the heartstrings of animal lovers around the world.

According to legendary actress and animal activist Virginia McKenna OBE, co-founder of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, “It is hard to exaggerate how the heat of the summer will affect these magnificent animals in their cramped quarters but, on the positive side, we are very pleased that their owners have agreed to Born Free rehoming them in one of our sanctuaries. We do hope that, with public support, this will become a reality. They certainly deserve, at last, to walk on grass and rest in the shade of trees.”

The lions were taken in as small cubs and were part of a traditional circus act travelling Eastern Europe and Turkey. They performed until the end of summer 2014, but due to a government ban that came into force at the beginning of the year, Bulgaria now prohibits the use of wild animals in circuses - a move that has been widely welcomed by animal welfare experts.

Jora and Black's elegant feline features are in stark contrast to the shabby tin can cage that has been their home for many years. With little to no environmental enrichment, and with each cage measuring some 2.5 meters, it barely allows them to move around as they stare out and intermittently nuzzle and paw each other.

Dr. John Knight, Born Free's Senior Veterinary Consultant added, “Although they appear to be in good health, the conditions in which they live are totally inappropriate. Jora is lame and once he is in our care we will be able to give him the required examinations and treatments.”

Born Free is now actively working with the owners, who are co-operating, to secure Jora and Black's future, and a move to Born Free’s renowned rescue centre at Shamwari, which is already home to a number of lions and leopards rescued from a dire life in captivity.

Black and Jora video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=polL5v5x7Os

The Born Free Foundation is a dynamic international wildlife charity devoted to compassionate conservation and animal welfare. Born Free takes action worldwide to protect threatened species and stop individual animal suffering. Born Free believes wildlife belongs in the wild and works to phase out zoos. The Foundation rescues animals from lives of misery in tiny cages and gives them lifetime care. Born Free protects lions, elephants, tigers, gorillas, wolves, polar bears, dolphins, marine turtles, and many more species in their natural habitats, working with local communities to help people and wildlife live together without conflict. The Foundation’s high-profile campaigns change public attitudes, persuade decision-makers, and get results. Every year, Born Free helps hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide. More at www.bornfree.org.uk.

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation”—the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org; www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

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