A few weeks back I had the privilege of meeting a little rescue lion cub by the name of Sukari, who's residing at Zambi Wildlife Retreat in Western Sydney. Zambi Wildlife Retreat is the first and only animal welfare establishment in Australia that rescues, rehabilitates, re-homes and offers shelter to a wide range of species.
Sukari fell asleep suckling my finger. As you can tell by the look on my face I'm melting!
From their website: "While our focus is on exotic animals needing retirement from zoo breeding programs, circus and private ownership, we also provide care and shelter to domestics, farm animals and native wildlife. Emergency rescue is available across all species. Managed by highly qualified staff and volunteers, Zambi Wildlife Retreat ensures the health, safety and dignity to all animals in our care. LOTL Rescue, established in 2010, is the founding company of Zambi Wildlife Retreat. ZWR operates as a registered charity in NSW (Australia)."
My friend Lisa (left), Sukari and my mum
They were offering encounters with their little cub Sukari (only while she was little!) in order to raise funds to run their amazing organisation. They also hope to be open to the public soon, to raise further funds for the animals. Being a charity, they rely entirely on donations and fundraising in order to operate. Click here if you'd like to make a donation. I asked one of the keepers, Donna, to answer a few short questions about their organisation and she was happy to oblige...
Belinda (one of the other people at the encounter who is keen to get involved with us here at CTM - there were 6 of us which is the maximum!) letting Sukari suckle on her finger too
me: Are the encounters still running? If so for how much longer?
Donna: Encounters are still available for another week only. (contact them if you'd like to meet Sukari)
me: How can people sign up for your mailing list to stay up to date about when you guys will be open to the public for special viewing etc?
Donna: You can sign up for our e-news on our Facebook page. We also sell memberships for $15.
me: What is the future for Zambi (another cub) and Sukari? Will they stay at Zambi Wildlife Retreat or are they part of a national breeding program?
Donna: The lion cubs will live their lives out together at ZWR.
me: Will you guys continue to breed lion cubs? If so for what reason?
Donna: We have no plans to breed cubs. We are a retreat for retired animals from the zoo breeding programs, circus, private ownership etc.
me: Are you guys fully funded by donations? How can people donate?
Donna: We are solely donation based. We are a registered charity. People can donate on our FB page, website or by mail. Click here for more info on how to donate.
A pretty amazing place huh?!
And just a public announcement: While I wouldn't normally recommend cuddling lions cubs if you're travelling to places in South Africa for example, that are often guises for the awful canned hunting industry, there are obviously times when this does not apply (no such thing as canned hunting in Australia!) and not every single sanctuary in Southern Africa that has cubs is in fact involved in canned hunting. When I volunteered at Harnas in Namibia in 2012 they had a cheetah cub and have had lions cubs in the past. All the animals at their sanctuary have come to them as orphans, because sadly, big cats and other predators are often shot in places like Namibia if the farm owners feel they are a threat to their livestock. This is a problem in itself, but in most cases they contact Harnas, or their sister organisation and our partner, Nannkuse, to hand over any orphans left behind. If places like Harnas, Naankuse, and others, didn't exist, nor would these animals. You can usually tell the good organisations apart from the more sinister ones, by the fact that they don't breed any animals, which Harnas and Naankuse do not, and if they have a release-into-the-wild program, which both Harnas and Naankuse do. That's my two cents on that serious issue!
If you can help out Zambi Wildlife Retreat and the amazing things they're doing for all animals, please check out their website for ways you can help.