Social Interactions of Our Wild Animals
According to their individual needs, our rescued animals get to experience social bonds in a safe environment
At our sanctuaries, bears and big cats find a species-appropriate home and life-long love and care. Given the opportunity to express their natural behaviours, if possible, the rescued animals also get the chance to experience social structures that fit their species-specific and individual needs.
Animals that have been successfully introduced to each other benefit from various advantages. Not only can they enjoy a larger enclosure, equipped with enrichment, but also, finally, display social behaviour. For some animals, sharing space with conspecifics can also reduce stress. Therefore, even some individuals of solitary species may be kept in pairs or small groups (provided that breeding is prevented), usually consisting of animals from the same family or litter, or a male and a female kept together.
Solitary nature and different needs
The solitary nature and different needs of individual animals limit the chances for social housing. Especially animals rescued from poor captive conditions often suffer from physical or psychological trauma. Besides the animals history, aspects like their health condition, mental state and behaviour need to be assessed thoroughly. Last but not least, we evaluate the existing options for social housing before a decision is made.
Provided personalities, ages and/or genders of animals match, and most importantly positive interactions between them have been observed, the successful outcome of an introduction is rather likely. Nevertheless, there is always the risk of an introduction failing because animals may respond in an unpredictable way.
A concise plan is required, considering the various possible outcomes
- Each animals' behaviour is monitored thoroughly – before, during and after the introduction.
- For each introduction, we make a description of each animals' personality and behaviour, interactions with each other, background information and reasons for the introduction.
- Time to evaluate the success or failure of an introduction is a must.
- The introduction was successful? Great! Important measures like more intensive monitoring the animals for at least one month follow the introduction.
- The introduction failed? In this case, we review the reasons and see how we can improve the situation. Either there is a re-attempt or we decide to keep the animals separated.
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Here are some of our successful social housings
Bears Cam and Mo
Rescued at the beginning of 2021 from horrible keeping conditions, bears Cam and Mo have found peace together at BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh. Found underweight, exhausted and very stressed, they have transformed into two happy bears who enjoy each others company. As they often interacted through the fence when living next to each other, the caretakers decided to socialise them in summer 2021. Whereas Cam was very keen to play with Mo, she was a bit shy at first. The gentle boy gave her space to get used to him and only after a day she succumbed to his charms. They have been inseparable ever since! In autumn, Mi, Tam and Lac joined Mo and Cam. Cam welcomed this change and fitted in instantly with the three youngsters, while Mo is more reserved at the moment and seems to need more time to get used to them. However, the lovely two continue to be very playful and enjoy spending time together in their big enclosure. Also bears Lulu and Lili joined this group a few weeks ago and now we have a group of 7 bears living together.
Update 2022 | 7 new friends
Ca, Mo, Mi, Tam, Lac, Lulu and Lili still share a large enclosure and the caretakers call them the teenager gang. This teenager gang loves exploring and climbing their wooden structures and foraging for food. They all live in good harmony with one another and are in great health condition.
Leopards Tulani and Mike
Despite their vast difference in backgrounds, leopards Tulani and Mike found love against all odds. Tulani, who was hand-raised at a safari park and Mike, who was captured from the wild, were rescued and socialised at LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary. The dream team has been inseparable since! Just like domestic cats, they love to groom – themselves and each other.
Lionesses Lea and Kara
Lionesses Lea and Kara were just over a year old when they arrived at LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary. Thanks to their young age we could introduce them to each other immediately after their release. Since then, the two lionesses have developed a strong bond. In October 2021, we celebrated their 11th anniversary at LIONSROCK.
Lions Tavi and Aurica
Tavi and Aurica were socialised in 2009 and have been inseparable ever since. Both were born in 2003 and endured almost 6 years of suffering at Tecuci Zoo in Romania, before FOUR PAWS rescued them. After arriving at LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in spring 2009 the two lions suffering from malnutrition soon gained weight. Tavi has slight problems with his hip and hind legs due to degenerative joint disease, which is found in many big cats that have been kept under confined conditions on concrete flooring for a longer period of time as it had been the case with Tavi and Aurica prior to their rescue. Older lions with chronic conditions need smaller enclosures and intensive special care, so in September 2018, Tavi and Aurica moved to our Special Care Unit. The duo settled well and enjoys their new surroundings and neighbours.
Bears Pashuk and Gjina
Bears Pashuk and Gjina were rescued from horrible conditions in Albania in 2016, where they were fed alcohol and they had to live in tiny cages. Our caretakers at BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina kept a close eye on their behaviour and decided to introduce them to each other once they considered them ready in 2017. Everything went according to plan: Pashuk and Gjina enjoyed playing together in their large home they still share happily today.