Friday, 22 March 2013

King of the (Concrete) Jungle

Lombardi Lions is an Alberton-based family business which started in 1999. With a focus on conservation (breeding in captivity), plus awareness and education, in December 2012 they launched an intimate, interactive lion cub experience at Thaba Ya Batswana Eco Hotel & Spa in the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve, just south of Jozi. Yesterday, Human Rights Day, we headed out with my in-laws for a buffet breakfast (R125pp) at the hotel's sprawling Kraal Kombuis restaurant, on the deck overlooking the kiddie's playground, followed by a cuddle with the cubs (R70pp).

According to the literature supplied, and info I solicited from the handler overseeing our experience in the enclosure, the cubs arrive at the facility when they are as young as two weeks old (like the white lion being stroked by my mom-in-law in the very last pic below). They are bottle fed until eight weeks of age, at which stage meat (chicken) is introduced to their diet, and at twelve weeks old they return to the Lombardi farm. When they reach six months of age they are relocated to a private breeding farm in the North West Province (natural habitat, but still fed), at which point they are ready to be sold to game reserves, lion parks and zoos. I was emphatically assured by the handler that they are NOT sold for canned hunting, which is, in my opinion, one of the most obvious indicators of small-penis-syndrome under the sun.

Much to my chagrin, Goran doesn't seem to share my love for animals, but rather his father's general fear and disdain - as evidenced by his body language and facial expressions in the pics below. No amount of coaxing would get that child to crack a smile or venture out of his protective shell. All in all, however, a fab family day out. Highly recommended!