Nero & Nora

Born: 2012 & 2008
Nero comes from a French circus, Nora was owned by a German animal trainer

Nero came to South Africa together with Masrya, a picture cub from Egypt. Please read her story below. Unfortunately, Masrya passed away in February 2021 as a result of kidney failure.

Nero comes from a French circus. Please read his rescue story below.

Nora lived with a lion tamer, together with Ziera and Mahli. When this trainer could by law no longer perform with these lionesses in circuses, she took them to Stichting Leeuw in the Netherlands. The three ladies stayed in quarantine for a couple of weeks and were then moved to South Africa, where they belong.

After Masrya’s passing, Nero went in search of a new companion. Fortunately, Nora was still single at The Lions Foundation, so she was moved in the enclosure right next to Nero. The keepers and vet will keep a close eye on how they get along. As soon as it seems safe, the gate between them will be opened and they will hopefully have a great life together! The keepers and volunteers there keep a close eye on the lions, but don’t interfere too much with them, so they can live like lions should. Nero and Nora can enjoy a semi-wild life.


Masrya’s rescue

Stichting Leeuw’s proud lioness Masrya became an entirely different lioness than the sick weak creature once rescued by the foundation. Her story begins in the streets of Cairo, Egypt where she was a picture cub for tourists. Her owner had her declawed to prevent her from scratching tourists while taking photographs.

As she got older, she was purchased by a private collector of exotic animals. She was placed in a small cage at the head of a busy street to promote her owner’s private zoo. The cage was big enough to lie down in, to stand up in and to sit in… but that was it. The only thing this majestic creature could do was watch people walk past her cage, day-in and day-out.

Until one day a German tourist noticed Masrya’s hardship and she resolved to help the poor lioness. She contacted Occupy for Animals to ask for their help in helping Masrya. They in turn contacted animal welfare organisation Spots and together the two organisations raised the funds and arranged the paperwork to save Masrya. Stichting Leeuw was asked to provide a place for Masrya to live and once this was arranged the rescue operation was ready to go.

When Masrya finally arrived at Stichting Leeuw she was so weakened by her limited space to move in and a shortage of red meat in her diet that she could barely walk. After lots of loving care, Masrya did much better but her kidney damage and joint problems resulting from the declawing, could not be cured.

Masrya was a very people-oriented, friendly lioness, which was amazing considering her past. She shared her outdoor enclosure with male lion Nero. The two became inseparable and therefore returned to Africa together. The semi-wild was as good as it gets for Masrya, because of her physical limitations and because she was declawed.

Nero’s rescue

This picture features Nero as a young cub. He grew up at Stichting Leeuw to be a big proud lion and the visitors’ favourite. Nero was the only surviving cub of a nest of four captive born cubs at a French circus. Since the circus had decided to cancel its lion act, Nero was sold to another circus. This circus offered visitors an opportunity to have their picture taken with the cub for payment. Nero was a picture cub. He spent most of his days hidden away from sight in much too small a cage. After receiving a tip from a concerned circus contact, Stichting Leeuw took Nero to their rescue facility. Nero wasn’t even 4 months old when he arrived on the estate.

Nero is now an adult lion, but still as playful as ever and sometimes very stubborn and rowdy. After living with Masrya, he will hopefully have a new partner in Nora.

Did you know…
… that Stichting Leeuw aims to return many more lions to their natural habitat?

Help make this possible by adopting a lion.


The Lions Foundation aims to
rehabilitate lions in need from
all over the world to their
natural habitat.


The Lions Foundation is
located in Schrikkloof
Nature Reserve.

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Sterilisation Lionesses

November 2021Our vet, dr Peter Caldwell, came with a group of veterinary students from www.thewildspirit.com to sterilize our lionesses Nora, Mahli, Ziera and Nala. These students, from all over the world, go to different conservation and sanctuary facilities and...

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Arrival Bakari Pride

26 August 2021  Today we welcomed Bakari, Sarabi and Jessy! This small pride arrived at Stichting Leeuw in 2014, from a German circus. After receiving a generous donation from a Dutch donor, The Lions Foundation was able to build a beautiful enclosure for them in...

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