Born Free USA Global Field Projects
Born Free USA supports two rescue facilities and an education center within the Shamwari Wildlife Reserve in South Africa. The Shamwari sanctuaries house lions and leopards who are rescued from captive environments such as zoos, circuses and private homes.
The first sanctuary opened in 1996, the educational center a year later, and the second sanctuary in 2006. Some of the first animals rescued and re-homed in Shamwari were two lions and a leopard who had been confined to cages on the patio of a restaurant without enough space to take two steps.
The education center was made possible by a generous donation in honor of a young naturalist, Julie Ward, who was the victim of a tragic murder while on safari in Kenya. The center caters to children and promotes responsible conservation efforts and teaches them about big cats and their natural habitats. It also highlights the cruelty involved in keeping wild animals in captivity.
The second sanctuary is in the north of Shamwari. A wonderful donation from South African supporter Jean Byrd helped fund it and the education center.
At the rescue facilities, visitors are allowed onto a small viewing platform that overlooks the spacious and grassy enclosure. The enclosure is large enough that the animals can easily choose to roam in and out of sight of the visitors, allowing them freedom and privacy.
(Read frequently posted blog entries about the Julie Ward and Jean Byrd centers.)