Air Partner flies lion to its new home


Air Partner has assisted in relocating a lion to its new home on behalf of the Born Free Foundation.

The lion cub – named King – was discovered in a Paris apartment in October last year, where he had been kept illegally as an exotic pet and neglected by his owner. Since then, he had been living temporarily at Natuurhulpcentrum rescue centre in Belgium, but was recently found a new permanent home at Born Free’s Big Cat Rescue Centre at Shamwari Private Game Reserve, South Africa.

Air Partner was tasked with transporting the big cat from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth on a chartered aircraft, from where he made the hour-long journey to Shamwari.

Air Partner’s freight team was on hand to assist with the complex custom clearing process in Johannesburg and ensure a smooth transition from the lion’s initial commercial flight on Kenya Airways to the chartered Beech 1900 for the next leg of his journey. The turboprob was chosen for its suitable cargo size, which allowed two vets to travel alongside the lion with access at all times.

Mike Hill, director of freight at Air Partner, said, “We applaud the amazing work that Born Free does in the field of animal protection and were honored to have played a role in this rescue mission to bring King to Shamwari, where he will be given expert care for rest of his life.

“We pride ourselves on our ability to handle every kind of cargo, however sensitive or valuable, and, as always, my thanks go to my team for their hard work and dedication.”

Maggie Balaskas, animal rescue and care manager at the Born Free Foundation, commented, “We were delighted that Air Partner was able to help us with this part of King’s life-changing journey.

“King is already settling into his new home at our Big Cat Rescue Centre at Shamwari Private Game Reserve, South Africa; he is exploring his new surroundings and is intrigued by all the new sights and smells around him.

“King is one of the few lucky ones; we simply don’t know how many other wild animals are being kept illegally as pets across Europe. Born Free will continue to work hard to ensure that wild animals are kept where they belong, in the wild.”

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Kirstie worked full-time on Business Airport International for over two years and is now a freelance journalist. Away from her writing commitments, you will find her blogging on her lifestyle website or training for her next charity run.

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