Simba and Bella Reunite in Malawi

Simba and Bella Reunite in Malawi

Posted by Sam Hopkins on 9th May 2014

A few weeks ago you may remember us telling you about Simba the Lion - a magnificent male being relocated to join Bella the lioness at the Lilongwe Wildlife Centrein Malawi. More can be read about that story here. This week we have some fantastic news via Born Free that the two have finally met and, despite a few teething problems to begin with, the introduction seems to have gone well!

Photo taken by staff at the 'Lilongwe Wildlife Centre'.

Below follows the blog via the Born Free website about their introduction and the news since. Don't they make a sweet couple!?

"The gate between them was opened on 15th April, and immediately Bella was aggressive to Simba and he was clearly nervous of her. We knew it was unlikely they would bond straight away, but as the days went by we became impatient for a thaw in Bella's hostile stance. These lions had been lonely for too long."

Bella and Simba had been living alongside each other, separated by fences, after Simba's arrival at the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre (LWC) in Malawi on 21st February. He had been confiscated from an animal trainer in France in October 2012 and had been living in a temporary home at the Natuurhulpcentrum Sanctuary (NHC) in Belgium since then. This gentle lion seemed a perfect mate for disabled Bella, rescued from a Romanian zoo, and the Born Free Foundation, LWC and NHC had worked to bring them together.

Initially a wooden partition ensured Bella and Simba could only hear and smell each other, as stipulated by the quarantine requirements, but then the barriers came down and Bella came face to face with another lion for the first time in five years.

We thought Bella would be delighted to be so close Simba. She had been distraught when her mate then her cub succumbed to disease in the Romanian zoo in 2006, and although she could see other lions in the zoo, she had lived alone. In fact Bella was very pleased to see Simba to start with. However, her interest and curiosity started turning to aggression and her purrs became snarls.

Why, we have no idea, but it could be that her skeletal problems and blindness in one eye played a part - maybe she didn't want Simba to think that she was a pushover!

Bella's hostility didn't diminish though, and Simba was clearly nervous around this strange lioness who was now stalking him. Fortunately Bella started to come into season and her whole attitude changed. To Simba this was equally unnerving, having Bella now rolling invitingly on the ground in front of him, and trying to lick him! He retreated to his indoor quarters and wouldn't come out!

On the 24th May, Simba's hormones started to make up for his lack of experience and he mated with Bella for the first time. That night, under a sky bright with stars, they remained outside together for the first time. The next day Bella and Simba were seen relaxing and dozing together. Since then, it is clear they very much enjoy each other's company!

Bella used to be very dependent on human company, and Simba too would come to the fence to get our attention. Now they only look up when they see us and then focus on each other again. To us this is the best outcome we could have wished for."

What an amazing end to this story! Have a look at these fantastic photos below - don't they look good together!

Photo taken by staff at the 'Lilongwe Wildlife Centre'.

Photo taken by staff at the 'Lilongwe Wildlife Centre'.

If you're interested in seeing both Bella and Simba together in the flesh and indeed lion conservation, why not join the 'Lilongwe Wildlife Centre' project in Malawi? This is a fantastic project, located in 'The Warm Heart of Africa'! For more information, please visit our project page here.

All photos are credited to the 'Lilongwe Wildlife Centre'


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Luca commented 2 years ago
Bella storia commovente domanda ma sono ancora in vita?mi sta ha cuore bella

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