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Add Lionsrock to your bucket list.. an unforgettable experience

I’d never heard of Lionsrock Lodge & Big Cat Sanctuary before.  I was visiting Bethlehem to see a friend and it was on the list of places she suggested I might stay at.  Life would have been poorer if I hadn’t selected it.  It was one of the most treasured experiences of my life!

Lionsrock Lodge
Yes, it is very comfortable. That’s Beezus’ Hills sleeping bag on the floor – a gift last Christmas from a friend. LionsRock is pet-friendly.
Lionsrock Lodge view
The scenery is stunning and children are catered for too.
Lionsrock Lodge
Photographs taken from your room could almost be a painting.
Common Waterbuck at Lionsrock Lodge
View from the swimming pool. Do you know how Common Waterbuck got that white circle on its bottom? When they boarded Noah’s Ark, the vessel’s toilet seats had just been painted white. As usual, the waterbuck had drank too much water and needed to go to the loo… even though the paint hadn’t dried.

But Lionsrock is a very special and rather extraordinary place.  It is also home to about 85 lions, 13 tigers, caracals, hyena and a three-legged cheetah.  It is a project by Four Paws — an international animal welfare organisation, founded in 1988 with headquarters in Vienna, Austria.  It focuses on assisting animals that are directly under human control: stray dogs and cats, laboratory animals, farm animals, wild animals and companion animals but also bears, big cats and orangutans kept under inappropriate conditions.

All the animals at Lionsrock are accustomed to humans and many were rescued from appalling conditions in zoos, circuses or as show pets — for people to have their photograph taken while holding or sitting alongside them.  That only works with young animals so they were often malnourished to keep them smaller, suffering the consequences as they got older.  This is especially evident in one of the tigers at Lionsrock, where rickets has left it badly debilitated.

At Lionsrock, all the animals are assured a more humane and permanent future.  It is probably the most professional setup I’ve ever seen.  And it needs your support — which you can give by visiting Lionsrock.  It deserves to become one of the best-known (and loved) destinations in South Africa, so please share this with your friends.

Do watch the is breathtaking video showing drone footage taken above Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary. That will answer the question, “Do the animals have enough space?” At the bottom of that page, you’ll also find links to other videos. One is the story of Cesar’s rescue from a dreadful zoo in Romania, which embraces everything that Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary is all about.

Lions @ Lionsrock Lodge
Of course there are lions… about 85 of them in several prides spread across a number of large enclosures.  There are not many places where you will get this close to these magnificent creatures — in complete safety.

Coda was born on a farm in South Africa.  Only a few days after his birth, he was separated from his mother and sold to the former owners of the property now occupied by Lionsrock, where he was raised by hand.  For a short time he shared an enclosure with lion cubs, but he separated from them because he got bigger and bigger.  Coda is very attached to humans and appears friendly to all people.  Since November 2007, he’s had a big and natural enclosure with a little dam, because tigers love water.

Caracal @ Lionsrock Lodge
This is either Tom or Jerry, the Caracal brothers. I was astounded by the colour of their eyes.

I’ve been fascinated by Caracals (rooikat, desert lynx) ever since I saw one in Franschhoek.  Or to be more accurate, a live one in Franschhoek, because there is a stuffed caracal at the Simonsberg Conservancy’s offices at DelVera outside Stellenbosch.  That one was the first one Beezus had ever seen too, and I had to always carry him past that one, covering his eyes — because he just wanted to kill it!  Beezus chased the Franschhoek one away, but you can read about that story here.

So being able to watch them really close was a special treat.

Cheetah @ Lionsrock
The three-legged cheetah
Hyenas at Lionsrock Lodge
These guys were the noisiest of the lot at night, although it sometimes felt as though there is some sort of competition between the hyenas and lions. But lions have a more lazy roar… hyenas sound almost manic! But what sounds to go to sleep with…
This guy had caught a sniff of Beezus and was coming closer to find out what he was.
Zebras at Lionsrock
The zebras usually hang about around the road between the main entrance and the lodge.

So click on LionsRock Lodge & Big Cat Sanctuary to make your plans to visit!

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