Monday, 12 April 2010

Touchdown in Jo'burg...

Our small group was ushered into a room at the cargo area in Johannesburg airport where we would await the arrival of our animals. "Just a few more minutes until landing" we were informed. Those minutes felt like hours; our anxiety at seeing the animals and making sure they had arrived safely was almost more than we could bear. This was our very first animal transfer but it was amazing to be a part of the process which was so proffessionally done by the team from Vier Pfoten and Lionsrock. Mr. Helmut Dungler and Dr. Amir Khalil reassured us at every step of the process that everything would be fine. Their experience and expertise and that of their team was visible and yet again inspiring!

Finally Marina (the vet in charge and our dear friend) popped her head round the corner, "They're here! I've seen them and they are all safe and well". Hearing those words was like music to our ears as we hurried along to a quiet area in the back to finally see them.

Marina opened up each one of the crates and we were able to see the animals for ourselves. Cleopatra, maintained her customary dignity and although interested in what was going on around her, was composed and elegant as always.
Hope was the star of the show. When her crate was opened she was clearly happy to see familiar faces, giving everyone a chance to tickle her ears, and showing off for the press who were there en masse to witness the very first re-homing of animals from the Middle East. The little ones were not as impressed and stayed in the back of their crate gaining much needed comfort from each other, while managing to pull some scary faces at the same time!

After many pictures were taken and a number of interviews given, our lions and serval were loaded onto the transport vehicle along with two adult French lions who had been rescued from a zoo in Toulouse, to begin the final leg of their journey home to Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary in Bethlehem, South Africa!

Hardly able to contain our excitement and relief at the fact that they had arrived safely, we piled into our cars and set off on the final leg of the adventure...

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