Situated in the heart of South Africa, close to Bethlehem, LIONSROCK is located about 2 – 3 hours distance from Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and Durban. A previously existing park, FOUR PAWS made the decision to take over the area in 2006 after an intensive search for an appropriate location for a sanctuary of this kind. Named after a prominent rock in the center of the area called “Lionsrock”, the sanctuary is currently home to more than 100 animals, mainly big cats rescued from zoos, private captivity or the entertainment industry.
With an area consisting of approximately 1,250 ha, huge demands were placed on the local team during the early days. The newly acquired big cat sanctuary required massive structural changes in order to bring the area up to FOUR PAWS` high quality standards.
Since 2006, FOUR PAWS has rescued more than 90 big cats from around the world
This includes 80 rescued lions (Panthera leo), 16 tigers (Panthera tigris), 3 leopards (Panthera pardus), 1 cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), 1 caracal (Felis caracal), 1 hyena (Crocuta crocuta) and 2 wild dogs (Lycaon pictus).
All these animals are provided with a lifelong home and species-appropriate habitat. Their enclosures consist of several hectares space with plenty of trees and bushes. They are constructed in a circular shape that follows the natural shape of land, eliminating corners and and giving the animals the feeling that there are no borders around them.
A lot of attractive enrichment is built daily at the sanctuary, using mainly natural materials, and provides the animals with additional shade, climbing structures or resting places. Despite the considerable number of animals at the sanctuary, they are all monitored daily by a professional team on site. The personnel observe the animals daily and react depending on the case and necessity. A few veterinary checks are typically organized throughout the year.
Learn About Enclosures and Enrichment
Enclosures at LIONSROCK are constructed in a circular shape that follows the natural shape of the land, eliminating corners and giving the animals the feeling there are no borders around them, that they are not trapped.
Each enclosure has plenty of vegetation and enrichment. Enrichment is built daily at the sanctuary so that each animal is provided with shade, climbing structures, play- toys or resting places!
Enrichment is an essential part of daily living for animals. It helps keep them stimulated and promotes intelligence. Based on the needs of each animal species, they may be given climbing structures, Boomer Balls, swimming pools, treats and even boxes to play in.
Additionally, animals can be socialized with other animals of the same species but only after veterinarians and big cat experts carefully evaluate each animal to determine if their personalities would be suitable for socialization.
Despite the considerable number of animals at the sanctuary, they are all monitored daily by a professional team on- site. Trained personnel observe the animals daily and react depending on the case and necessity. A few veterinary checks are typically organized throughout the year.
Humans and the animals are able to see one another through their enclosures, but there are NO opportunities for visitors or untrained staff to be able to pet, handle, or hold the animals.
Enrichment program at LIONSROCK
In order for the rescued animals to be active during the day, the team on site prepares regularly the enrichment based on the requirements of the animals. They are usually self-made objects, covered in different scents to stimulate natural play and behaviour.
In addition to the rescued animals and the beautiful landscape at LIONSROCK, the sanctuary offers various activities for visitors. The Lodge itself offers a diversity of accommodation to suit the needs of visitors, ranging from luxury en-suite rooms to self-catering facilities for up to 70 guests.
A restaurant, bar and tea garden serve all sorts of tempting treats and cater to all dietary requirements (by arrangement). The atmosphere and staff are warm and friendly.
Guests have a range of activities to keep busy during the day and families will find the surroundings ideal. Game drives, swimming pool, bird watching and hiking trails in the natural surroundings are ideal relief from city life.