The holidays was coming to a close. I was back in Maputo after some hefty weeks in Tofo Beach with a lot of new people and experiences. I had taken a course in scuba diving, surfed for the first time and in general had a great time. Now, though, my sister had arrived in Johannesburg as a part of a longer travel around in the world. So a plane brought me to her in about an hour, and I got to see what she was up to. My sister, Ane, was working as a volunteer at a lion farm called Glen Afric. There they take in lions and other animals who comes from bad conditions elsewhere, and they take good care of them through their life. Simulating a natural life to the biggest extent possible was the job of Glen Afric, and this meant making sure the lions and cheetahs (among others) got their exercise and food, and that most of the animals got something more to do than sit around behind their bars. I also got to join as a volunteer, which was great, because that way I got to spend more time with my sister, while at the same time getting to spend a lot of time with animals one normally only get to see on television.
None of the animals there were there for exhibition. Though the farm takes guests and earns money that way, the reason every single animal is there, is to be given a second chance at life. For example Bailey, a cheetah, had been living in a zoo where they apparently didn’t know their shit, because they had placed the lions and the cheetahs in cages side by side. Since cheetahs and lions are natural enemies, as Bailey fell asleep too close to the lions, he got his foot ripped off by one of the lions. Now, though, Bailey had been living many years in Glen Afric, and was still healthy even though he was getting old. Also lions bred for canned hunting and such were taken in. People like to shoot at big animals for some reason, and canned hunting is when people breed animals in captivity to let rich assholes pay big money to shoot them. As the animals are brought to the farm, no breeding is continued as that is not the purpose of the farm, and it would propose a danger as the animals start fearing for their children and might turn hostile.
So we washed the elephants’ areas and took them for walks, we cleaned the gracing areas of weeds that could harm the animals, and we trained the lions among other things. Outside the fences of the main area where we lived and the lions, horses and elephants among others were fenced, there were bigger areas where there were impalas and zebras and so on. This is where we took some of the caged animals for walks now and then, and this is also where we had to clean the poisonous weeds. The bigger areas were also fenced into smaller areas though, so the walks didn’t take place among other animals. The nature was truly stunning, and there were also some empty buildings around. We were told they were used as film sets, and that a british TV-series, “Wild At Heart” was filmed there some years back.
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It was really something, coming so close to these animals! Though one can of course question the ethics about such places, I could tell they were doing something right here. It is never good for animals like this to live behind bars in any circumstances. No one can simulate the natural life of a lion the way wild life can, but these are all animals who had started life in a shitty way. The option is to put them down. That would probably be for the best in many cases, as we heard stories about similar places as Glen Afric that didn’t have as good ethical guidelines. But this seemed like a place by humans for animals, and not the other way around. The rule that states there should be no breeding is a very important one. The world truly needs more places with workers as committed as the people I met at Glen Afric. I get that it is challenging to run a farm like this due to the lack of income, and that is why you have to pay money to work as a volunteer. But I would pay for this over any hotel! The experience we got as volunteers was truly something special and unique, and I would love to go back there some day. I probably will.