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Successful transfer of six tigers to LIONSROCK


FOUR PAWS has successfully transferred six tigers, originally from an English zoo, from the FELIDA Big Cats Station to their new home in Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK. For years now, FOUR PAWS have been experts in transporting  big cats to a life more suited to their needs in the large spaces available at the sanctuary in South Africa. 


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Finally a species-appropriate home in FOUR PAWS' big cat sanctuary LIONSROCK.
© FOUR PAWS | Bogdan Baraghin

A long journey from Dartmoor Zoo

The six tigers are a family of two parents and their four offspring. The parents, Cromwell and Iuno, originally come from the Dartmoor Wildlife Park in England. Since 2002 they have been living in FELIDA Big Cats Station, known as Panthera before it was taken over by FOUR PAWS. 


Iuno and Cromwell had settled down very quickly in Panthera. Their son Rasputin was born in 2004; he was something of an ‘accident’, conceived while the parents were preparing to be transported. 


Rasputin’s younger siblings Mirza, Rafik and Zita were born in FELIDA in 2009, before FOUR PAWS had taken over the running of the facility. At that time it was not the practice to neuter big cats in captivity, as there was a worry that it would significantly alter their behaviour. Rather, pairs were simply separated as soon as the female became fertile. In Iuno and Cromwell’s case, this separation occurred a bit too late.

Six to eight people are necessary to carry one anasethized tiger.
© FOUR PAWS | Bogdan Baraghin

Months of preparations and planning needed

Transporting six tigers to South Africa required months of preparation and planning. In the run-up to the trip, the tigers were given several thorough medical checks and treatment by experienced vets. A vet was also present on the day before travel to give them a final check, before giving the all clear.


The big day arrived, and the tigers were exposed to as little stress as possible. Only their closest carers and the vet were present. The tigers were tranquilised using a blowpipe. The tranquilisation could only last for around 30 minutes, as the tigers need to be awake during their trip. Therefore, as soon they were tranquilised, things had to move very quickly. Six to eight people stood ready to carry the heavy cats as gently as possible to the transport crates. Before the crate was closed, the vet checked all vital signs, and was prepared to give infusions if necessary. To wake them up again, the tigers are given a recovery serum, to ensure it wakes up as soon as the crate is closed.


An experienced team of vets, animal carers, and FOUR PAWS staff then accompanied the transport to Amsterdam airport, where the animals were given fresh water in the so-called ‘Animal Hotel’ before their 10-hour flight. Then, late in the evening, they started the journey to Johannesburg. A FOUR PAWS team accompanied the tigers in the cargo aircraft.

Juno acts more cautious when leaving her crate for the very first time.
© FOUR PAWS | Bogdan Baraghin

All tigers arrived safely in LIONSROCK

On arrival in South Africa, our experienced vets took over the big cats. After a final check, a convoy of small trucks made its way to LIONSROCK, near Bethlehem.


On Friday evening, the six tigers arrived safely at the FOUR PAWS Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK. But as they were exhausted from their long journey, we decided to wait until the next morning to let them out into their new enclosures.



Raspoetin is obviously looking forward to explore his new home.
© FOUR PAWS | Bogdan Baraghin

LIONSROCK: A new home for abused big cats from all over the world

Around 100 big cats live in FOUR PAWS Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK. Most come from poor private keeping conditions, or from European zoos or circuses, and were laboriously transferred to South Africa by FOUR PAWS. For years now, FOUR PAWS has demonstrated its expertise in transporting sensitive big cats . So far, FOUR PAWS has carried out sixteen big cat transfers from Europe to South Africa, and three more within the country. None of the animals that have undertaken the long trip to South Africa has ever been injured.