Rescued from Lockdown: The Fantastic Four

Good news is much needed in these uncertain times. International wildlife charity Born Free is delighted to announce its most recent successful rescues and rehoming projects.

Two cheetah cubs were rescued from the illegal wildlife trade in Ethiopia. While two leopards were rescued from the failed Bloemfontein Zoo in South Africa.


The male and female cheetah cubs, which are yet to be named, are thought to be siblings and are only months old. They were seized by the Somali regional authorities in Ethiopia. They had most likely been taken from the wild to meet the demands of the pet trade in the Middle East.

After confiscation, the cubs were being cared for at a local police station. Born Free was notified of their situation. Then they were able to give them a lifetime home at Ensessa Kotteh, its wildlife sanctuary in Ethiopia. (Once all relevant permissions had been issued authorising their relocation.)

The Bloemfontein Zoo

In South Africa, Born Free had been following the case of Bloemfontein Zoo for some time. They understood that there were serious animal welfare concerns at the Zoo. These concerns included a lack of food for animals, completely inadequate living conditions and a lack of veterinary care.


In March, the local SPCA asked the charity if it could assist in the rescue and rehoming of the animals. Specifically with a focus of providing a lifetime home to the zoo’s two leopards. Namely, Mowgli, a black leopard approximately 18 months old and Zeiss, a spotted leopard around six years old. Luckily, Born Free was able to offer them both a place at its big cat sanctuary in Shamwari Private Game Reserve.

Maybe you’ll even see the leopards on A virtual game drive with Shamwari’s head ranger.

Safe in their new homes

“These are two very different cases, but they highlight the problems with big cats in captivity, and the continued exploitation of wild animals,” explains Dr Chris Draper, Head of Animal Welfare and Captivity. “The cheetah cubs are active and alert, despite their ordeal, but they are vulnerable and have a long road ahead. Both are undernourished and walking with a slight limp. The female also has two older, injuries to her front paws.

“The leopards have now been released into their main enclosures at our big cat sanctuary. Mowgli is very nervous, while Zeiss is more inquisitive, but both are eating, drinking and settling into their new homes.


“These animals have all had terrible starts in life, whether in the illegal wildlife trade or in inadequate captivity in zoos. Born Free is delighted to offer lifetime homes for both sets of cats and hope they can now all thrive in a more natural environment with the best care possible. There is very little space in sanctuaries for wild animals rescued from captivity: To achieve the maximum impact for animals, we need to work to prevent such problems from arising in the first place, by stamping out the illegal trade in animals as pets and tackling the wholescale exploitation of animals in zoos worldwide.”

To support Born Free in providing these animals with lifetime care visit

About Born Free

Born Free was founded by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna. They starred in the movie classic, Born Free (1966), together with their eldest son, Will. Their mission is to ensure that all wild animals, whether living in captivity or in the wild, are treated with compassion and respect and are able to live their lives according to their needs. Born Free opposes the exploitation of wild animals in captivity and campaigns to keep wildlife in the wild.

Born Free promotes Compassionate Conservation which strives to enhance the survival of threatened species in the wild and protect natural habitats while respecting the needs of and safeguarding the welfare of individual animals. They seek to have a positive impact on animals in the wild and protect their ecosystems in perpetuity. Both for their own intrinsic value and for the critical roles they play within the natural world. For more information about Born Free please visit:

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