Friday, 24 December 2010

All about bears...

Earlier this month we were thrilled to be able to move our two bears to their larger enclosures. The enclosures are outdoors encompassing their very own little ponds, and Balou even has a natural cave! The sight was chosen and designed by Stefan Knopfer, from Austria and Ahmad Sardar, and we have to say they have both an amazing job at creating interesting, fun enclosures to keep these two busy.

In order to complete the enclosures, Annelie De Klerk and Herbert came from Lionsrock in South Africa to fix the electric fencing. We enlisted the help of Hani who worked closely with Herbert and learnt how it was done.

Balou (our adult bear) wondered around his enclosure in the evening almost not believing that he was able to feel earth under his paws and spent most of his first night digging up everything he possibly could. The next morning when we arrived to check on him, he was nowhere in sight!! After a few panicked moments we found him settled very happily behind one of the natural bushes in his enclosure. Can you spot the bear!!!

As for little Teddie...he couldn't wait to get out of the crate and explore his new surroundings; born in captivity this is the very first time he is out in nature and it was a joy to see!


After much playing, Teddie found his was to his night room and after rearranging the straw lay down and went to sleep. This was a sight for sore eyes as he had not slept like this since he came to at New Hope.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who made this possible.

We now move on to the construction of outdoor enclosures for the Hyenas and would welcome your help and support.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Growing Together...

One of the latest initiatives from the Princess Alia Foundation is Growing Together, an equine therapy project for young people on the Autistic Spectrum. Situated near to the Royal Stables in Al-Hummar, the programme brings together horses which have been rescued and rehabilitated with children in need of specialized care. Suyen Talken-Sinclair has come over from the UK to set up and run the programme, and we are very grateful to have her with us.
The site itself has been specifically designed to incorporate the natural flora and fauna, fresh running water, and nature walks with an aromatic garden, natural play area and indoor class-rooms. This has all been done with the intention of allowing children to relax and relate in a natural and holistic manner, as well as giving them an opportunity to interact with their equine therapists.

Growing Together started life as an idea only two months ago, but as if driven by the wind of Allah himself, the programme has gathered momentum and come to being in a remarkably short time. Less than two weeks ago the designated site was little more than a clearing under the trees, but since then, thanks to the amazing miracle-working powers of Major Faisal, the Director of the Royal Stables, and his team of workers, the area is now one of astounding beauty, complete with flower beds and an area of green that any cricket team would be envious of!

The therapy itself was inspired by the work of the Horse Boy Foundation, and the very positive results that equine therapy is having with individuals on the Autistic Spectrum in Europe and the United States. Equine Assisted Therapy is also being used overseas to treat a wide range of anomalies, such as eating disorders, truancy, anti-social behaviours and domestic abuse.

The first children arrived to be a part of Growing Together on Sunday, the 31st of October, and in homage to the date, some real magic was achieved. Every one of the children was amazed by the natural world around them, thrilled to be able to walk and run in the fresh air, and of course, to be able to interact with the horses. One of the children made his own personal history by speaking for the first time in a voice louder than a whisper, calling out “Horse! Horse!”

The horses, six in all, were wonderful, taking in their stride without hesitation or upset their new role as equine therapists. There is Reem, a very royal mare, who knows just how regal she is. Then Istabraq, a gentle lady who was a great favourite with the children. The third mare, Areej, is the true matriarch of our little herd, even if Reem thinks differently! The boys are represented by Iago, a chestnut gelding who catches the eye and is very relaxed. Burkan , himself once much abused, was really keen to meet all of the children, and made certain that he was the first in line to be stroked. Finally, the tall, dark and handsome one, Zippo, a black beauty with the most gentle and trusting of souls.

There are two more horses in the programme, Alain, a stallion who is a real gentleman, and Chance, a chestnut gelding who is very shy and wary of other horses. For this reason, Chance will only be used when there is a need for a one to one private session, and, of course, Alain needs to be quartered separately to the ladies!

The Team!

After the first session, meetings were held with four other schools in the Amman area and each school has asked to be involved with the programme, making a total of thirty-two children who will be attending the sessions! These sessions are offered free of charge to the schools by PAF in the hope that children from all backgrounds will be able to access them.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Another Chance at life...

It has been a very busy time at New Hope, with a number of new arrivals, but throughout the last few months there has been one animal who has been on our minds and hearts. We were alerted to an adult Syrian Brown Bear in one of the zoos who was exhibiting very bad stereotypical behaviour, especially after the loss of his mate. The teams have been in and out of the zoos, assessing his situation and we have even had a number of individuals expressing their concern for this fine bear.

We are pleased to report that this gentleman has finally taken lodging at New Hope. He arrived at New Hope last week and seemed quiet and quite withdrawn. With the usual quick action and support, Vier Pfoten immediately sent out a bear specialist, Stefan Knopfer, who is a vital member of their Bear Park in Austria. Stefan came over to assist with settling our new guest and also to set about building a large outdoor enclosure. Yet again we are inspired by commitment and support of our partners, Vier Pfoten, and would like to express our thanks and appreciation for all that they continue to do.

Over the past few days that this bear has been with us we have noticed that during the day he likes to curl up in his night room, enjoying the privacy which he has now been afforded, and he is active during the night, where he takes a dip in his bath (literally a bath tub which we installed in his enclosure) and hunts for the food which we hide around his enclosure during the day. This aspect is very important as it provides him with essential enrichment. he has especially enjoyed the fish which we put for him in his water bowl and his bath!

Bears are extremely intelligent animals and need a great deal of enrichment in order to keep mentally happy and stable. We regret that this has not been the case in the past for this one bear, who is withdrawn and very depressed. We are hopeful that with the right amount of enrichment, peace and respect, he may recover and live a happier life with us at New Hope.

As we are trying to give him as much space and privacy as possible we are afraid we do not have many pictures. 

Construction of the new enclosure has started and we would appreciate your support through donations in order to provide these animals with the best life possible. For donations please contact the foundation on

Friday, 29 October 2010

A Lucky Save...

Along with young Eddie the bear cub, there was another young cub at risk at the zoo. This young one was a 3-4 month old tiger cub. He was found immobile in his enclosure and everyone said he was 'just asleep'. At closer investigation the vet saw that he was severly dehydrated and in need of immediate medical treatment. After further investigation, the team was told that there were in fact more cubs with this little one, but sadly they passed away. It was a major priority for the team to get this cub to New Hope and start treatment.

With great relief we were able to get him out the same night and when he arrived at New Hope, although he was slightly dazed by his trip, he darted straight out of his crate into the warmth and comfort of piles of straw in his new enclosure. After some initial treatment and careful observation, he even became interested in his neighbours, the two other tiger cubs at New Hope.

It was a difficult few days with the young cub where we watched him closely and monitored his eating patterns and movement. He seemed to be very interested initially in his fresh water and milk, however the food we had given him did not seem so appealing. Anxiously we waited to see if he would eat or if we needed to intervene. Two days after his arrival we were thrilled to see that he had eaten a whole bowl of food and was even starting to play and communicate with his friends!

Although we still watch him closely we are more confident that he is now on the right track!

Lions & Tigers... Now Bears oh my!!

Last week the teams were assembled for another zoo inspection, which they do regularly, in order to ensure the health and safety of the zoo animals, as far as possible. On their routine inspection they came across a sight which will haunt all of us for years to come. In a tiny enclosure, no more than 3m by 3m they found a 9 month old bear cub. He was sitting in his stark enclosure knawing at his own paw. It is known that a bear can actually chew off his own paw through frustration, depression etc and the bear expert on the team was fearful for this little one. After the vet inspection, immediate recommendations were issued that the bear be removed from the zoo in an attempt to save its life.

The letters were issued and signed by the authorities and within a few hours the teams were assembled again for the confiscation and they set off on their rescue mission at 5pm the same evening. A couple of hours passed and we feared the worst until we received a phone call saying that he had been loaded and they were on their way to New Hope.

the truck pulled in to new Hope at 9pm and as the doors of the transport opened we were met with the site of a terrified little brown bear pacing in his crate. It was obvius that the confiscation of this little one would in fact save his life. We settled him quickly in his new enclosure where he immediately set to work exploring, playing and eating anything and everything in site! That night we had to tear ourselves away from him hoping that he would have a good night and we looked forward to the next day of play!

Arriving at New Hope the next morning, we were met with call from little Eddie, which he is now called, as he waited for his playmates, and we set to work installing a paddling pool and some new toys. The pictures say it all...

There is much work to be done with Eddie to ensure that he leaves behind his terrible experience and we are hopeful that he is on the right track. We will keep you updated with pictures and his progress.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

The power of the world works in circles...

PAF was extremely fortunate to have Linda Tellington Jones come and visit and give a workshop on the Tellington Touch.  "The power of the world works in circles" Black Elk as told to John Neihardt. This is the basic movement of the Tellington Touch. You make circles holding your fingertips, your fingers, or your hand in various positions using various pressures. These simple circles are an entrance or a doorway into a whole different dimension of your relationship with your animal, explains Linda.

Linda goes on to explain that the cells that form each living being all share the same universal 'intelligence'. Every cell knows how to be a perfect part of a feather, a twig, or a paw. It knows its function in the universe. It is the circular movements you make with your fingers or hands which stimulates these cells making them work to their optimal capacity reminding them of how they should work and allowing them to heal the body. This is true of both animal and human as we witnessed first hand!

During her time here in Jordan Linda gave a workshop where she focused on the TTouch with horses. We saw one of the most challenging horses in the stables respond to Linda's gentle touch as she identified the areas of his body which were giving him pain. She then went on to ride him beautifully again using her method. The look on the horse owners face was one of awe, as he saw his challenging charge respond and work with Linda while he looked relaxed and happy!

Linda also worked on a number of other animals and with each one we witnessed the same communication and bond we had seen develop with the horses. We were even lucky enough to have her sort out some of our own aches and pains!

All round, it was a great success and we cannot even begin to express our thanks to this remarkable human being who not only travelled the world to be here with us and share her method, but donated all the proceeds of the workshop to the Princess Alia Foundation. I for one am convinced of the positive effects of TTouch and you will often catch me practising TTouch with the animals I come in contact with!

For more information on TTouch visit

Monday, 30 August 2010

Another phone call!!

Looking at my phone I instantly recognised the number and thought to myself, 'I wonder what animals it will be this time'. I was not wrong - my colleague at the end of the line told me they had just confiscated two young Bengali tiger cubs at the border.

Although they were small we were not prepared for the sight of them in the terrible crate they were in...

We very quickly set to work on their enclosure providing them with enough straw to disappear into comfortably, lots of logs to climb on and a small pool in which they could swim.

After an adjustment period the tigers began very slowly to wander about their new home investigating everything around them and finally even took a dip!
We hope that with a great deal of peace and quiet, respect, good food and space, the tigers will grow and become stronger until such time as we may be able to rehome them in an appropriate sanctuary.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

An Update From Lionsrock...

It has been many months since we said our goodbyes to Hope, Arandas, Muhawish, Amra and Khawla but we are thrilled when we recieve updates about how they are getting along.

The latest update shows that there have been many changes for our 5 friends, the biggest being the introduction of a new member to their pride - no other than our sweet Saba who joined the pride in June.

Below is the full update we recieved from our dear friend Hildegard Pirker at Lionsrock...

The 5 cubs, which had to be sedated for their relocation in the new enclosure, were darted and given first a thorough examination. As we had seen over the past months since they arrived, Hope and the smallest female Khawla developed sometimes severe limping most likely as a result of malnutrition, which we treated with oral medication. So it was the best opportunity while sedated to treat all of them with a boost of all the vital vitamins and calcium to improve their condition and prevent future problems in their growing development. The sedation was soft and not long after we placed them in their new enclosure, one after the other started waking up. While they were still dizzy and unstable on their feet, we could see that all of them immediately recognized that Saba, who arrived only 2 weeks ago, was now between them. Saba, which was since his arrival had been separated from the group, could now be inspected closely. Saba himself was also keen to finally smell and groom his new friends and kept following everyone excitedly until he made physical contact with each one of them. Hope was a little confused about this attention to the newcomer trying to get between Saba and the younger cubs, when she felt the introduction became to rough. Arandas on the other hand, as the 'biggest' male in the small pride, felt that he had to challenge Saba first, showing him his male qualities, before he decided that Saba was no threat to his pride and could become his friend.

At the end of the day, after exploring their new home, the group settled at their new little house, providing them shelter and safety for the night.

The next morning the group was already waiting keen for us to bring their food. Without any problems they came in the feeding area to have their first meal in the new home. The feeding showed that Saba was fully accepted by the group, as all of them fed peaceful together.

Seeta was all the time close at the fence watching their every move following them up and down the enclosure. Today she seemed to have overcome  her curious excitement and settled calmly on her favorite outlook spot. As I mentioned in my last email, she is really amazing and when we put her meat with the next feeding in the feeding area, she did only hesitate a view seconds before she came in to fetch it  with trustful calmness.
We couldn't be happier with the news that everyone is doing well and that Saba, for the first time in his life, has a family which he may now call his own. As for Seeta...the picture says it all!!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Stray Animal Control Programme

For years, as in many other countries, the authorities dealt with stray dogs by using poison or shooting them. This, of course, does not solve the problem, all it does is create space for different dogs to take over the area and multiply.

The Stray Animal Control Programme is a long term programme which is designed to reduce the number of stray animals in a humane way. The process involves catching the animals, marking the area where they are from, performing castrations and vaccinating them for rabies whilst also tagging the dogs so they are not re-caught, and then releasing them back to exact area where they were caught. This ensures that no new animals move into the area, ensures that the animals are healthy and reduces the numbers as they can no longer mate.

In Jordan, this all started with Dr. Chinny Krishna of the Blue Cross of India. India was responsible for 55% of human rabies across the world. Once the programme was started in 4 cities in India, the incidence of rabies over 5 years was reduced to 0 and the number of stray dogs declined. Dr. Krishna visited Jordan in 2009 and met with a number of officials who all agreed that this seemed to be the best way to go.

In May of 2010, a team from Vier-Pfoten (Romania) came to Jordan to initiate the programme. The team spent ten days in Jordan where they started the programme and trained the Jordanian teams. There are two centres for the programme, New Hope serving Amman and the Jordan University of Science and Technology serving the North. The operations are under full swing and within one month of the programme starting the number of dogs who had been operated on had reached just over 200. This may not seem such a large number in view of the overall problem, however with the small number of vets who are able to perform the operations we are very pleased with the overall numbers. The vets are getting more confident each day and the operations are moving faster.

We are also very fortunate that international vets are volunteering their time to come to Jordan to assist in the programme. This enables out vets to continue their training and gain new methods of operating as well as having extra pairs of hands to help! We look forward to even more volunteers!

Jordan is the very first country in the region to adopt this programme at a National level and we are very grateful to all who are working so diligently to make this a success.

To our international and local partners for helping to get this programme up and running and to all those who have volunteered - thank you!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Another goodbye...

In the very early hours of the 23rd of June we met at the New Hope Centre to load and bid a final farewell to Seeta, Saba and the three spotted African Hyenas who would be travelling home to Lionsrock South Africa. It was very bittersweet, as this time we would be saying goodbye from Amman as none of us would be travelling with them. However we couldn't be happier as we knew that they were going to the best possible place!

All the animals, except for Saba, were darted and loaded into the crates...

Saba calmly went into his crate as if knowing, though the journey may be long, he was off to a better place and sat waiting patiently to be loaded onto the vehicle on the first leg of his trip home.
The hyenas started to wake up before we loaded them and we were very pleased they remained calm throughout the whole ordeal!

Our friends at Aramex had come to our rescue yet again and sponsored the trip. Without them this would not have been possible and we were very proud to have them on board as our partners.

We loaded the crates into the vehicles, and after a last check of water, locks and the like we said our final goodbyes.

Each minute of the day and that night felt like an eternity as we waited for news of their safe arrival to South Africa. Finally at 1:00pm on the afternoon of the 24th we got word that they had arrived and all were well and safe! Pictures quickly thereafter...

En Route to Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary amid the World Cup mahem!

Seeta takes her first steps into her new enclosure.

She settles in well next to her future companion Simba!

The Hyenas waste no time stepping out of the confines of their crates into the freedom of their new home.

As for Saba; he was given a warm welcome by Hope, Arandas, Muhawish, Khawla and Amra (although Khawla did try to show him who the boss is!)

This is Arandas saying hello to Saba. They will be together on Monday 28th June, as they are still getting used to each other!

Although we are reminded every day of those who left us as we pass the empty enclosures at New Hope, however we are filled with joy and emense gratitude knowing that they are safe and free at Lionsrock.