A French lioness, which was transferred to South Africa from Spain, has settled in well next to a Syrian war lion, named Saeed, and is showing signs of possible socialisation. Photo: Supplied
Cape Town – A French lioness that was transferred from Spain to South Africa has settled in well next to a Syrian war lion, named Saeed, and is showing signs of possible socialisation.

Nala arrived from Spain last year and is at FOUR PAWS’ Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK in Bethlehem.

The lioness was rescued from an illegal French circus breeder by Animal Advocacy and Protection and was rehabilitated before being transferred to South Africa.

The organisation hopes Nala and Saeed will eventually be socialised and has been monitoring the interaction between the animals.

Hildegard Pirker, head of animal welfare at LIONSROCK, said: “We have placed cameras which are monitoring the interaction between her and Saeed, our male, who is in the neighbouring enclosure.

“Those videos are checked to evaluate their behaviour towards each other. In the first few weeks after her arrival, we saw that Nala was the one regularly seeking friendly contact with Saeed, but he didn’t respond in the same way.

“We have, however, noticed now that Nala and Saeed have spent some time next to each other in their enclosures and we are carefully optimistic about their future.

“Once we think Nala is confident enough, we will let them explore each others’ enclosure and evaluate their behaviour again.”

The team at the sanctuary has socialised five pairs of lions and helped another 15 lions join different prides. In so doing, FOUR PAWS follows a strict no-breeding policy.

The director of FOUR PAWS in South Africa, Fiona Miles, said: “More than 100 rescued big cats live at LIONSROCK. They come to us from zoos, circuses and dubious breeders. Most of them have suffered from terrible keeping conditions.

“It is our duty to offer these animals a peaceful species-appropriate environment for the rest of their lives, while breaking the cycle of breeding in captivity.

“We are happy with Nala’s progress. No animal should go through the suffering that she, and so many other big cats here at LIONSROCK, had to go through.”

Tanya van Tonder, stray animal care project co-ordinator of FOUR PAWS in South Africa, said: “Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to give your pets extra love, attention, exercise and, of course, delicious treats.

“She is your moon and your stars, and the only one who really listens to you. He is your BFF who can put a smile on your dial even on the bluest Monday. 

"Gone are the days when Valentine’s Day was exclusively for couples. Why not spend the day getting cheesy with your pooch?”

Cape Times