British Airways Holidays officially opened a new rescue enclosure at big cat sanctuary in South Africa as part of its shared dream with Born Free, a global animal welfare organisation, that all wild animals, whether living in captivity or wildlife, be handled with compassion and respect. British Airways Holidays and Born Free have been working together over the last year to develop the travel company’s industry-leading Animal Welfare Policy.
Two lionesses, nicknamed Alpha and Cora, are now residing in the enclosure. Originally, the two abandoned lionesses were rescued from a failed zoo in Spain and briefly housed at Natuurhulpcentrum, a Belgian wildlife rescue centre before being moved to their new home.
The Animal Welfare team of Born Free and the animal transport department of IAG Cargo ensured that Alpha and Cora provided expert care and attention as they flew to London and a British Airways flight to Cape Town. The lionesses then travelled by road a short distance before landing at the Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary, a 40-hectare sanctuary in Stanford, South Africa.The new natural habitat at the enclosure allows the lionesses to live in the best conditions for the rest of their lives.
Claire Bentley, British Airways Holidays Managing Director said: “We are pleased to have been able to support Born Free and encourage Alpha and Cora to spend the rest of their lives in their natural habitat. We recognise that our consumers embrace campaigns like this behind us, and we are proud that our new Animal Welfare Policy and its many programmes can help improve animal life. This is a long- term commitment for us and the first of many projects that we’ll be supporting Born Free with. We look forward to developing this extremely important partnership.”
As part of the collaboration, a new initiative, ‘ Raise the Red Flag ‘ was launched to help more animals, such as Alpha and Cora, by encouraging members of the public to raise complaints about captive wildlife protection and equipping people with the tools to take action.
Dr. Chris Draper, Head of Animal Welfare & Captivity, said at Born Free: “It is extremely gratifying to see how much Alpha and Cora have grown and relax in their brand-new enclosure. It is virtually impossible to allow large cats raised in harsh captivity conditions to be released into the wild, so their new home should create an environment as close as possible to their natural habitat and encourage them to display their natural behaviour. Alpha and Cora will now spend the rest of their lives under excellent care in an unsuitable zoo setting. While this is a storey with a happy ending, millions of wild animals around the world are held in captivity and need support. Born Free can not do this alone and we call on the public to take action and denounce the mistreatment by ‘ Raise the Red Flag ‘ of wild animals held in captivity.