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Lion - Shenzi

shenzi cub 2 monthsShenzi as a cub, 2 months old.

shenzi 6 months shani Shenzi 6 months old with foster mum Shani



shenzi 2012

Shenzi 2012

shenzi 2012Shenzi 2012.

shenzi 2012

Shenzi 2012.

shenzi 2013

Shenzi 2013

shenzi 2013Shenzi 2013 

shenzi 2013

Shenzi 2013 

shenzi 2013

Shenzi 2013 

NAME: Shenzi


AGE: (2018) 10 years

WEIGHT: (2013) 181.9Kg (2014) 182Kg (2015) 189Kg

ORIGIN: Etosha National Park. (on a farm bordering ENP)


REASON FOR CAPTIVITY: Captive reared, habituated and now too old for release.


Shenzi is one of our lions at AfriCat's Carnivore Care Centre.

Shenzi (meaning 'leader of the pack') was found weak and near death, at a waterhole on a cattle farm, bordering the world-renowned Etosha National Park. As we have no precise record of how Shenzi lost his mother, we suspect that the lioness left the confines of Etosha to hunt on neighbouring farmland.

Here, she gave birth to two known cubs: one cub of the same size was found dead at the very same waterhole, 2 weeks prior to Shenzi’s rescue. As farmers cannot tolerate these large predators amongst their livestock, they make use of gin traps and poison; we suspect that Shenzi’s mother was poisoned.

AfriCat North drove approx. 150 km to collect Shenzi from these compassionate farmers. Shenzi spent his first month at AfriCat North in a small enclosure, as de-worming medication as well as a dose of antibiotics, were administered.

Each day he would devour a piece of fresh meat; Shenzi grew so fast that after the first 2 weeks we had difficulty holding him whilst administering the medication. From the start, Shenzi kept his distance from humans and would not become any tamer – as AfriCat does not wish to habituate wild lions, after a month Shenzi was released into a 1 hectare enclosure, next to a group of 4 larger cubs who had been rescued from farmland adjacent to the Etosha NP, 6 months prior.

In Dec 2008, Shenzi was ready to be introduced to this group of 2 males and 2 females; based on a female’s mothering instinct, even though Shani was only 12 mths old, we separated her from her siblings and introduced her to Shenzi.

At first, Shani did not know how to react to this small cub, but after a few hours they had bonded and a month later, the 2nd female Sarana, was introduced into their enclosure. Once all was well, the first male, Shavula joined the group. His introduction to the 'cheeky' cub was more aggressive, but the females instinctively kept Shavula at a safe distance until he had bonded with Shenzi.

The last male Thimba, was introduced a week later and after a few hours, it was clear that the creation of this new pride, was a success. February 2009 saw the annual Veterinary Inspection at the Lion Sanctuary; the 5 young cubs were immobilized and relocated to a 50 hectare camp, where they have adapted well.

During 2011, Shenzi has had a tough year, but as lions are wild animals, they recover quickly, becoming stronger and more independent. At the age of three years, Shenzi was becoming more assertive and finding out the hard way, that to test your strength against two 4-year olds (Shavula & Thimba), even if they form part of your pride, leaves scars and puts you in your place. To add to the trials of growing up in the wild, Shenzi lost his 'mother' earlier that year. Shani, the loving adoptive mother to Shenzi, died under anaesthesia during the annual health check 2011. The veterinarian did all he could to try and resuscitate her, but it seems that a possible snake-bite earlier in the year had weakened her heart.

Shani & Sarana were due for their annual contraceptive replacement. The lion contraceptive implant is effective against pregnancy for approx. 12 months. Both lionesses were in perfect health, or so we thought, until Shani did not recover from her anaesthesia. However, even after lengthy laboratory tests, the cause of death was attributed to heart failure. As she was a young lioness (4 yrs old), the chances of her having a weak heart is slim but not impossible. However, during the rain season of 2010, Shani showed up one day with a swollen face and neck. We could not find any lesions indicating a bite, but we suspect that she could have suffered and survived a puff-adder bite. This snake toxin may have caused damage to her heart. Shenzi was truly sad when Shani did not return to the pride.

As humans, we tend to analyse animal behaviour according to human traits – sadness, fear, loneliness, are all human-felt experiences and when one observes an animal after such an incident, we most often project our feelings onto that animal. However, after Shani’s death, each one of the 4 remaining lions, Shenzi included, returned to the place where she was lying, sniffed about for a while and took time leaving the enclosure – as if they were paying their last respects. Sadly, a few months later, Sarana, Shenzi’s 'aunt', did not arrive for her evening feed and 12 hours later we found her dead. We feared anthrax as cause of death as it was so sudden, but, once again, after lengthy laboratory tests, nothing conclusive could be found and we attribute her death too, to snake bite.

The loss of the two females out of this small pride of lions at the AfriCat Care Centre, has bonded the males Shavula, Thimba and Shenzi into a close-knit coalition. In the wild, young males often bond and form such coalitions once they have been ousted from their natal prides by the dominant male, who is in most cases, their father.

Jan 2013: The decision to close the AfriCat North’s Lion Sanctuary on Farm Kaross came when the farm was sold at the end of 2012. It was decided that our 4 lions (Kilimanjaro, Shavula, Shenzi & Thimba) and one leopard (Lewa) would join the other 'ambassadors' at the AfriCat Carnivore Care Centre on Okonjima. Read more: about the AfriCat North lions moving south - to their new home @ AfriCat on Okonjima.


Adoption Fee

Adopt Shenzi for 1 year: N$ 5,000 / U$ 620 / £ 410 / € 500

Be a sole supporter (adopter) of Shenzi for one year: N$ 12,000 /
U$ 1,500 / £ 900 / € 1,200

The adoption fee covers the cost of food and basic veterinary care.


Ways you can adopt Shenzi:


1. Adopt Shenzi through our online Shop, pay via credit card or paypal.

(available soon)


2. Contact AfriCat via email and state you would like to adopt Shenzi and make your donation via PayPal to



3. UK taxpayers can donate via Tusk Trust. tusk trust Download a Tusk donation / adoption form:



Tusk UK
Tusk Trust,
4 Cheapside House, High Street,
Gillingham, Dorset SP8 4AA

Tel: +44 (0)1747 831 005


4. Contact AfriCat via email and state you would like to adopt Shenzi and make your donation via Virgin Money Giving, donations will be routed to AfriCat through TUSK Trust.



5. Contact AfriCat via email and state you would like to adopt Shenzi and make your donation through AfriCat's United Kingdom Bank.

Details for all national and international swift transactions:
Account name: AfriCat UK
Account number: 00767476
Bank: Barclays Bank PLC,
Address: 27 Soho Square, London W1D 3QR, UK.
Sort code: 20-52-69




africat namibia 6. Contact AfriCat via email and state you would like to adopt Shenzi and make your donation through AfriCat's Namibian Bank.

Details for all national and international swift transactions:
AfriCat Foundation
Account number: 62245889186
Branch code:
First National Bank Namibia Ltd. Otjiwarongo Branch, Namibia
Postal Address:
P.O. Box 64, Otjiwarongo, Namibia
Physical Address:
7 St Georges Street, Otjiwarongo, Namibia




ubuntu namibia

7. Contact AfriCat via email and state you would like to adopt Shenzi and make your donation through UBUNTU - Namibia e.V.


UBUNTU – Namibia e.V.
Susanne und Roland Schäfer

Bergstraße 67
76646 Bruchsal / Germany

Ihre Unterstützung unserer Projekte in Namibia freut uns sehr.
Bitte geben sie im Verwendungszweck Projekt AfriCat oder Projekt UBUNTU an.
Unser Spendenkonto in Deutschland:
UBUNTU-Namibia e.V.

Volksbank Bruchsal-Bretten eG
Konto Nr.: 64750
Bankleitzahl: 663 912 00
IBAN: DE78 6639 1200 0000 0647 50
Um Ihnen eine Spendenbescheinigung zukommen lassen zu können, teilen Sie uns bitte
Ihre Anschrift mit:
Name, Vorname

Mobil: 0049 173 3026774




africat america 8.  Contact AfriCat America by email and state you would like to adopt Shenzi.

AfriCat America Inc.
Public Charity EIN 35-2541789

Peter & Wanda Hanssen, 7601 W. Southport Road,
Peoria, Illinois 61615, USA.
Tel: +1 309 674 1828, Cell: +1 309 453 5556





spots logo9.  Contact SPOTS and state you would like to adopt Shenzi.

Registration Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel)  20114314
NGO with anbi recognization.
fiscal nr: 813081919.

Simone Eckhart
Business Address: Spinetstraat 76,
4876 XT Etten-Leur




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