Howlett's Farm Blackmore Partners
Man Introduces Wife to Gorilla He Raised, Then This Happened
The victim and the beast
It appears as though wild animals have always been in Damian Aspinall’s blood. He grew up at Howletts Wild Animal Park after his father opened the adventure in 1957. John Aspinal was in charge of the 700-acre estate for years as it grew to dominate the U.K.’s landscape.
Howletts is home to an array of wild animals, but there was one that caught Damian's eye more than the others. It was a gorilla. In fact, their bond was so strong that she would often mother him when he was a child. Damian even claims that she carried him down from a tree and wiped his tears when he got stuck.
Growing the name
Howletts was just the beginning. John wanted to start a charity named the Aspinall Foundation to help educate people about wild animals and the need to conserve their natural habitat. Thankfully, it wasn't long before the foundation had enough money to open another zoo: Port Lympne Wild Animal Park.
Both of the parks are home to endangered and rare animals. They soon set up an orphaned gorillas project that worked with the Plateau Bateke National Park in Gabon. Here, they hope to reintroduce their gorillas back into the wild. Damian stepped up to the chairman spot after his father passed away, and he had some grand plans.
Damian's childhood wasn't like any other kids in the neighborhood. He was always surrounded by wild animals, and it turns out that most of them never wanted to come around for a playdate when there were so many wild animals all around.
Damian apparently always felt as though he was disconnected from humans and that he had more of a bond with the animals that he called his friends instead. Thankfully, this suited Damian. He told the Daily Mail that humans "inevitably let you down." However, animals have been there for Damian his entire life. There was no contest as to who would win his heart.
Finding the footage
While it might not have been the childhood that many of us enjoy, it seems as though Damian loved his time as a youngster thanks to all of the unique memories he made over the years. Now, Damian and his family still have footage of him running around with bison and tigers when he was just 7 years old.
In fact, he even once raced across the lawn with a pack of wolves hot on his tail. Sadly, not all of the films are joyful. Damian said that he once accidentally disturbed a wasp nest with some of the other animals, meaning they all had to run away.
Out of money
Nowadays, Damian gets to enjoy living the millionaire lifestyle. Sadly, things weren’t always easy for the conservationist. He admits that the family always had little money when he was growing up. To top it off, Damian says that his father refused to pay for his son’s life and instead insisted that he earned it all on his own.
Damian decided the best way to make some money was through real estate. Sadly, the parks were losing £ 4 million (approx. $ 4.9 million) a year. Damian's siblings didn’t want anything to do with the parks, but he was determined to make the money and turn it all around.
Learning to cooperate
Damian has many memories from his childhood, but one of the most prominent is helping to raise some of the many gorilla babies that came into the parks. Two of the male gorillas, Ima and Djalta, made a significant impact on his life. It was almost as though they were a part of Damian's family.
He knew they needed to head back to the wild if they were to live normal and healthy lives, but Damian wanted to make sure they would be in a protected area. He believes the key to survival is learning to coexist alongside one another.
Meeting the one
Thankfully, it looked as though Damian had found someone who loved his animals just as much as he did. He walked down the aisle with Victoria Fisher in August 2016 as they enjoyed a destination wedding in Tuscany, Italy. Victoria was working at Burberry when she first met and fell for Damian.
However, it seemed that Victoria was about to embrace her new lifestyle better than anyone ever imagined. She instantly fell for all of Damian's animals as she welcomed them as part of her family, too. As if that wasn't enough, the couple even let one of the wolves, Kago, sleep on their bed.
Some of us meet our partners through friends or dating sites, but Victoria and Damian actually met by chance. The pair were both at a dinner party, and Victoria had no idea who Damian was. Thankfully, she agreed to go on a date. The couple both went to lunch where Damian wowed his date with stories about his life at Howletts.
It wasn't until she got home and searched his name on the internet that Victoria learned about Damian's incredible life. Victoria told the Daily Mail that she didn't usually go for someone like Damian and neither of them were looking for a partner.
Tracking them down
Ima and Djalta, the baby gorillas, had been living in the wild for more than a decade. Damian was one of the main people who had helped to care for them when they were younger, and now it looked as though they had settled into their new lives. However, Damian couldn't stop thinking about his friends.
He wanted to track them and check on Ima and Djalta for himself. This wasn't the first time he had headed out into the wild to see his old friends, but this trip was going to be different. Damian wanted to take Victoria with him. Neither of them knew how the gorillas would react.
Knowing the risks
Ima and Djalta were used to their life in captivity, and the pair of gorillas had grown very close to their caregiver in that time. Although the three of them once shared a special bond, they had been living in the wild for many years. Damian had no idea if they would still recognize him, let alone learn how to accept a stranger.
Adult gorillas can be highly dangerous. They are a lot bigger than humans as well as being very strong. Damian knew all of the risks, but something was still pulling him to track them down. That might have been easier said than done.
Focusing on the task
It wasn't long before Damian gathered a team of experts and headed off to Gabon with Victoria by his side. They would need to work together if they stood a chance of tracking Ima and Djalta. Damian was overwhelmed with excitement as he prepared to see the gorillas after so long.
However, he couldn't shake his nerves about introducing the pair to Victoria. The couple had to push their worries to the back of their minds if they were going to have a successful trip. Plus, they were now worried they might not be able to find the gorillas in the first place.
Only the beginning
The experts had plenty of practice at how to track wild gorillas. Sadly, it looked as though Ima and Djalta might not want to be found after all. The team had traveled from the U.K. all the way to Gabon on the western coast of Africa. However, they still had a long way to go if they wanted to find the gorillas.
Victoria and Damian had to lace up their hiking boots to traverse the difficult landscape before they boarded a boat on the river. Thankfully, both the gorillas were wearing GPS locators to help make the team’s lives a little easier.
The GPS locators would help the team, but they still needed to look high and low if they stood a chance of finding their exact location. The jungle was dense, meaning there were plenty of places to hide. To top it off, Damian wanted to make sure they knew where the gorillas were hiding, so they didn't sneak up or startle the pair.
The team spent hours searching through the jungle. Sadly, it looked as though they were no closer to finding Ima and Djalta. That was until the team bought out their second plan. They had some technology that should help make their job a little easier.
Spotted at last
It looked as though the GPS devices weren’t working as well as the team ad hopes as they couldn't find the gorillas amongst the underbrush. The team’s new plan? To use aerial drones with cameras so they could get a better view of the jungle.
The drones were connected to Damian's smartphone, meaning that he could control them all by the touch of a button. Damian sent the drones up into the air and carefully scanned the floor below. The team finally located the two gorillas. Hopefully, the meeting would go smoother than the search to try and find them.
Figuring it out
Of course, a drone flying through the jungle was pretty out of the ordinary for the gorillas. Ima and Djalta soon appeared to try and figure out what it could be. They were cautious as the gorillas had no idea if they were under attack. However, their fear soon turned to confusion.
Damian carefully watched to see if the pair had changed since their time out in the wild. Thankfully, Ima and Djalta showed no aggression toward the drone. The gorillas were hiding out next to the river bank. This was perfect as it meant the team could approach them from the water.
Spotted in the distance
The time had finally come for the team to get up close and personal with the gorillas. However, tensions were running high among the group as everyone was worried about how the pair would react. What happened if they didn’t remember Damian?
Would the gorillas now be aggressive toward humans after so long apart? There was only one way to find out. It didn't take long for Ima and Djalta to spit the boat. The gorillas were curious as to who was approaching from the water. Sadly, Damian knew from experience that things could quickly change when working with wild animals.
Shy by nature
Gorillas are usually pretty shy animals who try their best to stay away from humans. However, they are also immensely strong and know how to put their strength to good use if they need it. They can easily end someone’s life if they stray too close. Damian and Victoria knew that one wrong move with the gorillas and they could be in trouble.
Surprising gorillas is one way to put yourself in danger. They don’t take well to being started and can become hostile pretty quickly. Damian hoped that Ima and Djalta would recognize their old friend before their natural instincts took over.
The boat slowly drew closer to the river bank. The gorillas sat and watched as the unfamiliar shape moved toward them. The team decided that it was best to retrieve the drone, so the gorillas weren’t having to deal with too much all at once.
Damian and Victoria kept focused on Ima and Djalta as they both made sure not to make any sudden moves or loud noises. It was all about trying to keep things as calm as possible. The silence was deafening, and it almost felt as though the team could hear their own hearts beating as they cautiously got close enough to the gorillas.
Calm and cautious
Ima and Djalta were closest to Damian. He decided that it was best that he got off the boat and was the first to approach the gorillas. Hopefully, they would recognize Damian's face and soon feel at ease. However, it had been 14 years since the pair took their first steps in the wild.
Damian knew the boat couldn't get too close or everyone could be in danger. He decided to stop the boat in the river as he climbed out into the waist-high water to wade closer to the pair. The team cut the engine as Damian carefully approached the gorillas one step at a time.
Not a threat
One of the many things that Damian had learned over the years was to keep yourself as low as possible when approaching gorillas. They don’t like anyone who is taller, so Damian crept along in a submissive position. The gorillas watched as he got closer, and it looked as though they were calm with Damian around.
They soon made quiet noises to each other. It was as if Ima and Djalta had never been away. Damian knew the sounds were a good sign that they were being friendly. The gorillas seemed to really recognize Damian - even after so many years apart.
Following the way
Damian was instantly at ease with the pair. He knew they meant him no harm, and their reunion had gone even better than he ever expected. Now, it was time to introduce Ima and Djata to the stranger on the boat. Victoria has sat and watched how her husband had approached the gorillas and knew it was best to follow in his footsteps.
She climbed into the water and carefully waded over to the river bank. Victoria tried her best to remain calm. Although they were close to Damian, it looked as though Ima and Djalta weren’t as willing to accept Victoria.
Needing a sign
The gorillas were waiting in the jungle while Damian sat on the river bank to keep watch over his wife. Victoria slowly approached the group on the land, but Damian wanted her to wait. Victoria needed a sign that Ima and Djalta were going to accept her on land. Victoria paused and waited.
Thankfully, the gorillas started to make the same grunting noises they had to Damian. It looked as though they trusted their old friend and thought the stranger meant no harm. Victoria continued to creep a little closer as slowly as she could. It was going well, but everyone knew it might not take much for that to change.
Speaking their language
It took many minutes before the gorillas recognized Damian. He already knew the pair, and they had only just let him be a part of their group. Victoria was a total stranger, so there was every chance that Ima and Djalta might try to keep her away. However, the couple wanted to make things work.
Victoria wanted to show that she was no threat and that she was submitting to the gorillas. Damian had learned how to understand the gorillas thanks to his many years of practice with the animals. One of them soon let out a low grumble. This was perfect. Damian knew it was a good sign.
Closer than planned
There are many ways that gorillas show they are relaxed, and making low and soft noises was one. Damian was relieved to see that things were going so well, but he never expected things to go any further. That was until one of the gorillas wanted to check out the stranger for themselves.
He walked over to Victoria, who was now sat on the bank before he gently nuzzled her face with his. The best bit? The gorillas both wanted to hug Victoria and snuggle into her hair. Things were going so well. However, Damian didn't want to push their luck. The team decided it was best to call it a day.
A friendly welcome
The next day, the couple returned to the same spot they had seen the gorillas in the hopes they would return for another meeting. Damian and Victoria found the location. Thankfully, Ima and Djalta were waiting at the edge of the riverbank for their friends.
It turned out that Ima was fascinated with Victoria as he couldn't get to her fast enough. He was making lots of friendly noises before Ima and Victoria started to play together at the edge of the water. It was an experience that Victoria never imagined before, but things were soon about to go even further.
An unbelievable move
Ima was amazed by Victoria, but there was something that left him puzzled: her hat. He took it and sniffed it all over before Ima placed it on his own head. He might not have been around humans for years, but Ima seemed to remember how they behaved.
Thankfully, the rest of the team captured the encounter on film from the safety of the boat. Damian uploaded the clip to social media where it soon spread across the world. Now, it has been viewed millions of times. As if that wasn't enough, Ima and Djalta were moved to a new protected area in 2013 and have been there ever since.
Always coming back
Although gorillas are kept in captivity across the world, in the wild, they only live in African tropical rainforests. Now, they are divided into western and eastern gorillas. It's believed that they were split millions of years ago during the ice age and have since developed their own unique characteristics.
However, both groups remain in the rainforest as neither of them could survive without it. Some mountain gorillas have been seen higher than the tree line as tracks have been discovered as high as 13,120 feet up. While gorillas sometimes stray a little further to look for food, they always come back to the rainforest in the end.
Helping the population
There has been a lot of conservation work to help protect these gorillas over the years as the number of western lowland gorillas has declined by approximately 60%. Returning Ima and Djalta to the wild is one of the ways that people have worked to increase the population.
However, it can be tough to calculate the precise number of gorillas living in the wild as they like to hide from humans. Poachers often hunt gorillas for trophies or meat, while illnesses and human intervention have also seen their numbers drop. Now, all gorillas are on the endangered or critically endangered list. It's people like Damian who are working to change this.
A change in temperament
Although gorillas typically try to stay away from humans, they can quickly turn aggressive if they feel they are being threatened. They usually have such a rapid change in behavior thanks to human error. It's vital to make sure that we never sneak up on a gorilla as they don’t like surprises.
Plus, it's all about learning how to make yourself look as submissive as possible. Sometimes, gorillas have been known to try and harm others to protect themselves, even if there is no real danger. Silverback gorillas are some of the most dangerous thanks to their size and power. They usually warn others with bluff charges and loud roars.
Showing your submission
A bluff charge is when a gorilla launches into a full charge toward a threat before they stop just a few feet away. Usually, the target gives in or acts submissively. This means the gorilla knows there is no threat and they go on their way without resorting to any kind of attack.
However, that can all change if the gorilla’s target decides to go away. Usually, gorillas see it as a chase and continue to run after whoever stood in their way. Believe it or not, but gorillas are pretty fast, meaning they can quickly catch up with a human. Sometimes, it's better to show you are no threat.
The mighty king
There is plenty that has given lions their royal title over the years. Yes, the King of Beasts has a triple threat: their presence, their mighty roar, and their flowing manes. While many of us never get to see them out in the wild, sanctuaries have given many of us the opportunity to get close to these big cats.
It turns out they might not be too different from our house cats after all. Sadly, that doesn't mean that we can take one home anytime soon.Lions are wild and unpredictable creatures who use their razor-sharp claws and impressive teeth to take down almost anything that stands in their way.
Building a bond
Some of us are lucky enough to work alongside big cats, with John Reinke being no exception. He had plenty of experience with wild animals and now spends his days helping to care for youngsters who have lost their parents. It wasn't long before John was offered a chance of a lifetime.
That's right; he was about to take home a baby lion and tiger cub. Bonedigger the lion and Tony the tiger were soon the best of friends as they grew and played with each other. However, John soon noticed something strange. Bonedigger would rush to his side whenever Tony got too carried away while playing with John.
An ongoing battle
It turned out the young cats had already been through a lot in their young lives, with Bonedigger having to burden much more than any other big cats. The young cub has been born with a type of metabolic bone disease. This meant that his bones were incredibly brittle and could easily break.
To top it off, Bonedigger had a handful of small deformities. Many young cubs would have found it too much to handle out in the wild. However, bonedigger wasn't like other lions. He was determined to get even stronger, and John got to watch his fight against his conditions every day.
Changing his life
It wasn't just Bonedigger who had a battle on his paws. It turned out that John had also overcome a huge obstacle in his life. It was 1994, and John was about to take part in a bungee jump. This adrenaline-filled sport was supposed to be the rush of a lifetime.
Tragically, it ended up changing John's life without warning. John was waiting on the top of the jump by the trapdoor when it suddenly malfunctioned. John ended up plummeting 55 feet toward the ground. He had a broken back, hip, and feet. To top it off, John had fallen onto a six-inch-long metal spike.
Fearing the worst
Thankfully, they were able to rescue the animal handler and get him to the hospital. Unfortunately, it didn't look good. The doctors warned John and his family that it was unlikely that he would ever be able to walk again. John wouldn't have it. He went through five years of rehabilitation.
Sadly, nothing was enough, and the doctors were forced to tell John that they would have to amputate both his legs. The infections had spread too far, and his body could no longer take the battle. Amazingly, the operation gave John a new desire to follow his passion: working with animals.
John's accident changed his life, but in ways that he never expected. It turned out that it brought him even closer to the lion cub as Bonedigger and John both learned how to live with their conditions. John felt as though the cub knew just what he was going through as Bonedigger was always by his side.
Tony sometimes got a little carried away and would pull too hard on John's prosthetic legs. However, Bonedigger was always there to tell the tiger to calm down and protect his carer. It looked as though the lion and John were building an unbreakable bond. Sadly, Bonedigger kept growing bigger each day.
A new home
Both Tony and Bonedigger continued to get larger as they got stronger and became the big cats they were supposed to be. However, this meant that John soon needed to find a new home for his feline friends as they could no longer stay in the house.
Thankfully, John didn't have to look far to find the pair a new permanent home in Oklahoma at the Wynnewood Animal Park. It might not have been the same as having the two cats in his house, but John knew they would both have all the room and enrichment they needed to thrive as they became adults.
Feeling the separation
It looked as though it would be the best place for the young cats. Sadly, the lion cub didn't take too well to the change. He was separated from Tony as they wanted to introduce the tiger to a group of other young tigers they were caring for in the park. While it might have been the best thing for Tony, it meant that Bonedigger was left all alone.
The lion was given a huge grassy pen all to himself. However, lions are supposed to be a part of a pride. Bonedigger would constantly pace around this enclosure and would often bite the walls. That wasn't all. There were no other lions at the park.
Although most of the animals at the park were wild animals, there was a group of mascots that would regularly roam around the enclosures. They were a pack of dachshunds. The group was formed of four puppies, with Abby stepping up as the leader of the pack.
However, the dogs would often be seen getting up to no good. They would hang around the cafeteria as the dachshunds hoped to grab any scraps of food that fell their way before running in and out of the guests. To top it off, the dogs would regularly head to the aviary to taunt the parrots after the dachshunds enjoyed a good meal.
Meeting the new addition
Many of the guests fell for the pack of dachshunds, but it turned out they had a hidden passion to pass the day. The dogs would often head from enclosure to enclosure to visit all the animals at the park. As soon as Bonedigger arrived in the park, the dogs were quick to run to his enclosure to say hello to the new addition.
Thankfully, the puppies had grown up around big cats as the park was already home to plenty of big cats. However, the dachshunds were unlike anything Bonedigger had ever seen. While they might have been some company, they weren’t quite the friends that the lion had in mind.
Years of knowledge
The park is brimming with knowledge thanks to the many keepers it has at its disposal, with Joe Exotic being one of the best. He had been with the sanctuary wince 1999 when it first opened its doors, and now has more than three decades of experience under his belt.
Although Joe has worked with many animals, he specializes in caring for tigers and lions. To top it off, he has even started a crossbreeding program among many of the big cats to help create new species. This could be some of their only chances of survival. Now, Joe was determined to find a way to help Bonedigger settle into his new home.
The first move
Joe knew most of the animals like the back of his hand. There was only one that could step up to the job: Abby. It might have sounded like a long shot, but Joe needed to help the cat. He ran to grab Abby’s leash before they headed to the lion’s enclosure.
Joe entered with the dachshund while another keeper kept hold of the lion. No one could believe what Joe was doing, but the keeper knew it was right. Joe had been keeping a close eye on the puppy for many days. All of a sudden, bonedigger pulled away from the keeper. Why? He was terrified of the dog!
One final warning
There was no time to think. Joe knew the keeper had to let go of the lion to allow him to approach the puppy in his own time. Bonedigger needed to be brave. However, Abby was more concerned about getting the young lion to play. She jumped around on the end of her leash as she wagged her tail and pulled toward the lion.
Bonedigger wasn't impressed. The cub took a step back before he tried to let out a huge roar. While it might have sounded more like a squeak, the keepers knew they needed to get out as fast as they could.
Making first contact
It hasn't been the first meeting that Joe imagined, but the keep was determined to help the pair build bridges and form a friendship. After all, it could be bonedigger’s only shot at having a friend. Joe decided to try again, and Abby was still just as determined to get the new arrival to play.
The keepers held their breath as they waited to see how Bonedigger would react. It wasn't long before the lion cub was interested in what the dachshund was doing and he got a little brave. Her approached the puppy until he was close enough to lower his nose to the ground and sniff Abby’s fur.
Sharing is caring
Bonedigger was still cautious of his new friend. However, Abby was jumping with joy that she had made friends with the lion. In fact, she couldn't wait to run around the enclosure. It was soon a fun game for the dachshund as she ran from one end to the other of the cage, taking in all the smells and sounds from her new playground.
The keepers wanted Bonedigger to know that it was still his home, so they found his favorite blanket and toys to help. It wasn't long before Abby found them, too, and now Bonedigger tried to keep them safe from the intruder. Amazingly, Abby only had one reaction: she licked his nose!
Earning an upgrade
It appeared as though the pair were getting along, and the keepers knew it was time to leave them to settle. Although they kept checking to make sure the two were getting along, it turned out they had nothing to worry about; Joe’s plan had worked!
The park wanted to make sure the new friends had everything they needed. It wasn't long before they got to work moving the lion and dachshund across the park to a larger enclosure. Here, Abby and Bonedigger had everything from a viewing platform to his and hers beds and everything in between. The only issue they faced was Abby’s bossy behavior.
Growing the pride
It looked as though the park finally had the hope they needed for bonedigger. It might not have been the most conventional answer to their problem, but everyone knew the cub needed to socialize with other animals if there was any way that he would grow up to be a healthy adult.
It wasn't long before Joe wanted to see if the rest of the dachshunds could get along with the big cat. They rounded up Milo, Angel, and Bullet as the puppies were brought to the enclosure. Abby made her mark on Bonedigger thanks to her bossy behavior. Although the others were less dominant, they soon settled into their new pride.
A cunning plan
The five friends were soon getting along better than anyone imagined. It was time to try new activities, with a group feeding next on the cards. The keepers decided to place raw meat for bonedigger on one side of the enclosure and kibble for the dogs on the other.
Sadly, Abby had other ideas. The dachshund started running and barking across the enclosure, and it wasn't long before Bonedigger was by her side trying to help fend off any threat. However, Abby was really luring the lion away from his meal so she could help herself to a steak. The best bit? Bonedigger didn't seem to care.
Not gone for long
The lion and dachshund have a bond that many people can't believe, and it seems as though their relationship goes further than meets the eye. They both love some mutual grooming as they remove fleas and ticks, while Abby also helps to clean Bonedigger’s teeth.
While the group all get along, the dogs have to be rounded up when the enclosure needs to be cleaned as they love chasing the grass cutters. Bonedigger has to sit and wait while his friends are gone. Thankfully, he doesn't usually have to wait long before the dachshunds are back causing mayhem in the enclosure.
Sharing their skills
Thankfully, it looks as though the dachshunds are all bonedigger needed to feel at home as the pride have been living together ever since - and it doesn't look as though that will be changing anytime soon. As if their friendship wasn't enough already, it seems as though the two unlikely friends have also learned a thing or two from one another over the years.
Abby now knows how to make noises and growl like a lion, while Bonedigger had picked up how to read the dog’s body language. While all the dogs are close to the lion, it seems as though Bonedigger and Abby have a special relationship.
The Terrific Trio
It turns out that Bonedigger and Abby aren't the only ones with an unusual friendship in the animal kingdom. There are many unlikely groups living across the world. Baloo and Shere Khan were sworn enemies in the movie ‘Jungle Book,’ but the same can't be said for their real-life counterparts.
That's right; Leo the lion stepped up to join the pair, and it looks as though they can't bear to be separated. The three lived in Georgia Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary where they earned the nickname BLT until Leo lost his life in 2016 and Shere Khan tragically passed away in 2018.
An unbreakable bond
Leo, Shere Khan, and Baloo all started their journey at Noah’s Ark back in 2001. The three were rescued from a basement as they were kept as a part of an illegal collection. All three needed a lot of treatment as they were malnourished and had all been diagnosed with various ailments.
The park thought about splitting them up. However, their journey together appeared to form an unbreakable bond as the three become one of the most unlikely trios across America. It turns out an African lion, Bengal tiger, and American black bear can learn to get along after all.
Plenty of obstacles
It turned out the team would have to work hard if they stood a chance of helping the animals recover from their former life. Shere Khan, the tiger, was underweight thanks to months of malnourishment, but that was only the beginning.
Leo, the lion, had a wound on his nose that had been left untreated, while Baloo, the bear, was wearing a harness that had caused an infection. This is because it had been fitted when he was younger but never changed as he continued to grow. Although the three had been around people, their lifestyle meant they were wary of humans.
Together until the end
The bear, lion, and tiger - BLT - were soon some of the most loved animals in the sanctuary, thanks to their unusual friendship. They would always sleep together, play with one another, and sometimes they were even spotted giving kisses.
Shere Khan was always known as the feistiest of the group as he would playfully pounce on his friends at any opportunity he got. Thankfully, they were together until the end. After they became a pair, Baloo and Shere Khan grew even closer. Baloo was even there with their keeper when Shere Khan said goodbye to the world two years later.
Plenty of mouths to feed
BLT took a lot of the limelight over the years, but it turns out there are more animals housed at Noah’s Ark than many realize. In fact, there are approximately 100 species that help to make up more than 1,500 animals that live in the park.
The sanctuary’s job is to help rescue exotic and farm animals who have been abandoned or could be living in poor conditions. The animals are then taken to the sanctuary where they either settle into their permanent home or they are rehabilitated back into their natural environment. The sanctuary relies on donations to help save all their animals.
Spotting the difference
There are many similarities between zoos and sanctuaries as they both house animals to help educate people and give them a loving home. However, there are also some major differences. One of the most prominent differences is how they acquire the animals. Most zoos trade with one another and run breeding programs within their own walls and with other zoos around the world.
Animal sanctuaries rescue their animals, usually from rouge zoos, collectors, or illegal owners. Sanctuaries sometimes rehabilitate the animals back into the wild and don't typically have breeding programs. However, breeding programs can help to replenish the number of endangered species.
Sharing the love
It appears as though John Reinke is just one of many who have worked with lion cubs over the years. Frikkie Von Solms lives in South Africa, and he has been friends with a lion named Zion for the last 15 years. Zion was born in a zoo to a lioness named Simba, but he had to be separated as many worried that Zion wouldn’t survive.
Male lions typically don't take well to challengers. Frikkie stepped in to help save the lion cub thanks to his experience of raising 19 big cats over the years. It wasn't long before the pair built an unbreakable bond thanks to being by each other's side.
Grown from trust
Thankfully, Frikkie trusts Zion more than many would of a big cat. It turns out that the lion has never shown any aggression towards humans, and loves to cuddle up and play with his human friend. Frikkie says they have such a strong bond because they trust one another.
Although he has rescued many other big cats along the way, Frikkie feels that his relationship with Zion is different from any of the others. They now share a bed and a truck whenever they head out together. To top it off, Frikkie even walks barefoot as the noise of shoes is too loud for his lion friend.
The other way around
Many humans have dedicated their entire life to rescuing animals and giving them the best life they can, but it turns out there have been some incidents of animals rescuing humans instead. In fact, even lions have been seen to step in and save the day.
These big cats are always seen in prides, meaning there is a lot of muscle and planning behind every move. Back in 2005, one pride saw a 12-year-old girl on her way back from school. Suddenly, four men appeared and grabbed the student before they started to head to a rural area in a southwestern African country.
Saving the day
Amazingly, three lions soon approached the group of men and chased them away from the girl. That wasn't all. The lions then crowded the girl and remained by her side until the police arrived to take her back to safety. Many experts wondered why they never harmed the youngster.
It turns out that her cries were similar to a lion cub. It appears as though the lions listened to their instinct to protect the girl. Many people work in sanctuaries to help protect great animals and prove that we don’t need to live in fear. However, these wild lions proved there could be more compassion there already than we ever expected.
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