LionessOur iconic lions Bella and Simba, who swapped a life of deprivation in a zoo and circus for a life in Africa, are getting older and now need even more special care.

As we move into a new phase of the lives of these exceptional lions, we are saddened at the thought that they may not be with us forever – but Born Free, Lilongwe Wildlife Trust and our partners and sponsors are proud to have been able to give them a good quality of life for so long, away from the cruelty they experienced in their early life.

Bella first arrived at Lilongwe Wildlife Centre in 2009 after she was rescued from a zoo in Romania by the Born Free Foundation. Prior to her rescue, Bella had been in poor shape due to neglect and improper care: she had deformed hind legs resulting from an inadequate diet when young, and eye problems which eventually led to the loss of an eye. While she seemed to love people, it was clear to everyone that she needed the company of her own kind. So, Born Free and the Natuurhulpcentrum animal rescue centre in Belgium teamed up to rescue Simba, a male lion, from a Belgian circus.  Simba had likely never felt grass under his feet until he stepped out of his crate at the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre in 2014.

The start of Bella and Simba’s ‘love story’ was perhaps a little turbulent but they have since formed a happy partnership, and have lived together in peace and tranquility under African skies since then.  

But both lions have ongoing health problems and these, combined with their advancing years, mean that they have been starting to slow down over the last few months. Although Bella has generally managed well throughout the years, her leg problems are starting to trouble her more, and we believe her eyesight and hearing may be deteriorating  – it is also becoming more of a challenge to make sure she is eating and therefore receiving her medication.

Simba has a deformity in his hip which has affected his mobility. This has become more significant over the last year and now means he is less comfortable when walking than he was. Simba has also been under treatment for several other health problems for many months. 

Both lions receive all the medical care and attention they need and are monitored throughout the entire day by staff and dedicated volunteers . Our main priority is to make sure that both lions are doing well and that their quality of life is kept to the highest level as possible.

Bella and Simba stand for so much that we work to highlight – the need to expose the futility and cruelty of certain zoos, the inevitable problems that can come from a life in captivity, the need for excellence in rescue and animal care, and the amazing resilience and dignity of animals who have been through so much.

 We thank everyone who have supported them over the years, especially the Olsen Animal Trust, David Walker and Natuurhulpcentrum. Here’s to Bella and Simba!

Lioness Bella