Ever since I was 3, when I watched the Lion King for the very first time, I knew that some day I would get the chance to get up close up and personal with the rulers of the Savannah – I’m talking about lions of course. Twenty years later, I spent about two years traveling and working in Australia, and an additional bit of time in a few countries in Asia. After that, it was time for me to head back to Sweden and start studying, but I had a strong feeling that there was something more I needed to do before I would go back to school, and that was to get up close to some lions. Instead of flying straight back to Sweden that December, I signed up to volunteer in Zimbabwe with the very helpful staff at GoEco and booked two weeks at the Lion Rehabilitation in Antelope Park project, just outside the small African town Gweru. I had never been that excited in my life…
I shared a room with two great girls, another one from Sweden and one from England. The first morning we got to sleep in a little, as a lot of us had traveled far. A great breakfast buffet was served later and we had a introduction meeting to get to know more about the Lion ALERT Project that they are doing there to save African lions.
Later in the afternoon, after an absolutely great lunch (!), we were given a safety talk on how to behave and what not to do on a lion walk. Then it was time to meet the 18-month-old walking cubs. It was the most amazing feeling to see the handlers coming towards us with a lion each. The lions acted like we were their pride and walked straight up to us and then they laid down for a quick break since they were relaxed from being recently fed.
The next two weeks are filled with all sorts of amazing activities such as cub sitting (six months old), elephant riding and training, enclosure cleaning, meat prep, several lion walks and learn more about lions and their natural behavior.
It was mixed feelings to leave this beautiful place, all my new friends and the beautiful lions. It´s absolutely a once in a lifetime experience, and all support is needed to secure the future of the African lions. Volunteering in Zimbabwe at Antelope Park will always have a place in my heart.