Sharing a love for big cats

 Drew Goldie and Sebastian Byrnes.  PHOTO: nicole mccain
Drew Goldie and Sebastian Byrnes. PHOTO: nicole mccain

Two Camps Bay Primary learners have taken their love for animals to Limpopo where they took part in a volunteer programme at the Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary.

The sanctuary currently homes 33 lions rescued from circuses in Peru and Colombia. The lions were transported to the sanctuary in May, following the biggest animal airlift of its kind.

The 13-year-olds, Drew Goldie and Sebastian Byrnes, joined the volunteer programme at the sanctuary after hearing about the rescued lions.

“We heard about the 33 lions and wanted to get involved in their volunteer programme,” explains Drew.

After a four-page application form, the learners travelled to Limpopo with their mothers. They assisted in checking fences, cleaning the enclosures and water holes, preparing meat and feeding the animals.

And although the work may have been hard, the two still found a way to make it fun. “We also helped with to feed the sheep and impala and clean watering holes. We had to clean out the water holes with buckets. But we had fun having a water fight,” Drew says.

Meeting the lions was an experience the learners won’t soon forget. “It was really overwhelming. You can’t really describe the experience. I never thought it would be so peaceful,” Sebastian says.

All safety precautions were taken, with the learners staying a metre away from the fences and not allowed to touch the lions.

The experience has inspired both learners, who plan to return to the sanctuary every year, to follow careers in zoology and animal conservation.

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