News Column

Born Free - Simba the lion heads home

February 26, 2014

From French Zoo to Africa's bushveld ... Simba the lion is finally free to start a new chapter of his story, thanks to the efforts of Born Free and The Natuurhulpcentrum  - with partners Land Rover and Kenya Airways. This week, Born Free & The Natuurhulpcentrum (Wildlife Rescue Centre) are celebrating the safe return of Simba the lion to his homeland Africa.  He was accompanied for the last leg of his journey from Nairobi in Kenya to his new home in Malawi and given a personal welcome to his new life-long home by actress, founder and trustee of the Born Free Foundation, Virginia McKenna, OBE – as well as popular actress Helen Worth, star of Coronation Street.

Simba was just six months old when he entered the French zoo, Parc Zoologique du Bouy.  Just two months later he was acquired by an animal trainer in Verna, where he was confined to a ‘beast wagon’ – nothing more than a lorry trailer with occasional access to a small outside run. Thankfully, French Authorities stepped in and ordered that Simba be handed over. At the end of 2012, thanks to a concerted effort by Fondation 30 Millions d’Amis, a French NGO, and the Natuurhulpcentrum Opglabbeek, Simba moved to a temporary home in Belgium.  Following discussions with Born Free last year the plan was hatched to move Simba 4,900 miles to the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre in Malawi.  In time there are plans to introduce Simba to a lioness named Bella who was also rescued by Born Free 5 years ago from a Romanian zoo and who has settled in well at Lilongwe.

The move to relocate Simba has been a great team effort with sponsorship and support of the road transportation courtesy of Born Free’s Global conservation partner Land Rover and Kenya Airways, ‘The Pride of Africa’, generously providing the flights.

Virginia said, “How wonderful to have a ‘good news’ animal story! In contrast to the seemingly endless negative and tragic ones that have filled the media in recent weeks. I am very happy, and fortunate, to accompany Simba to his new home in Malawi, where I know he will be beautifully cared for, living the rest of his life in a natural bush enclosure – a stark contrast to the circus wagon and barren “exercise” pen in France. And perhaps, eventually, he will be introduced to beautiful Bella, the one-eyed lioness we brought there 5 years ago. That would be a happy ending!”

The uplifting story of Simba has captured the hearts and imagination of people across the world as this magnificent lion’s tragic story begins a new and exciting chapter, and Serena Hotels is very proud to be a small part of it – hosting the team at the Nairobi Serena Hotel after their visit to Malawi.  Yes, it is about one animal, one individual … but all of them matter. / @serenahotels Claire Roadley Marketing & PR Manager Ethos Marketing® Unit 5, Field Place Estate, Byfleets Lane, Broadbridge Heath, Horsham, RH12 3PB Tel: 44 (0)1403 243619 @ethos_marketing / @claireroadley Ethos Marketing is the UK Sales, Marketing and PR office for luxury hotels and game lodges in Southern and East Africa.

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The following files are available for download:,c1444373Simba portraitshop,c1444374Simba beast wagon 2012 C Natuurhulpcentrum,c1444375Simba the lion enroute to Africa,c1444376Nairobi Serena Gardens left to right Daniel Kangu-GM Nairobi Serena Hotel Virginia McKenna- Founder Born Free Foundation and Allan Igambi Deputy GM Nairobi Serena Hotel,c1444377Exterior View Pool by Night - Nairobi Serena

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Source: Cision

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