Sad news about Imara, our white lioness - The Big Cat Sanctuary

Sad news about Imara, our white lioness

Imara, our white lioness

The Big Cat Sanctuary has some very sad news to share, that on Monday 8th April we sadly had to say goodbye to Imara, one of our white lionesses. 

Imara was born here at The Big Cat Sanctuary in April 2013 to parents Themba and Joy, and along with her brother Ngozi and sisters Jasiri and Nuru, made up one-quarter of the biggest litter of any cubs born on site. Later joined by half-sisters Sabi and Shaka, these little bundles of fun were often to be found chasing each other around their enclosure and jumping in and out of muddy puddles after heavy rain! 


As is natural for lion prides at around 18 months old, Ngozi was separated from the main pride and so Imara, having an extra close bond with him, was chosen to keep her big brother company.  

Whilst Imara & Ngozi settled into their new home that had been carefully planted up with lovely shrubs and bushes by our gardening team, these two tear-away teenagers had great fun in doing their own gardening work by pulling the plants back out again! If not redecorating, they would spend their time up on their high platform, lounging in the sun as only lions do best, or Imara especially would be found sat in the corner of the enclosure looking through the fence to the sheep unknowingly grazing away on the field next door. 

In July 2022 the siblings were moved to the enclosures in the middle of site, to allow for the start of our new Project Lion build. They quickly established their new territory with lots of roaring, and wow, did she have an impressive roar! 

Ngozi sadly passed away in November 2022, and keepers ensured that Imara got lots of extra special attention. Keeper Nathan began training sessions with her, which she was very happy to partake in as it meant that she got lots of tasty meaty treats. She even got to the point of allowing for hand vaccinations – she was a star! 

As lions are one of the only truly social species of cat, we wanted her to have some company so after careful consideration it was decided to move Kasanga into the enclosure next door and start the slow process of introducing them. Imara was not very happy with the big handsome guy from across the way suddenly taking up half of her home and kept her distance initially, but very quickly saw him for the gentle giant he is. In June 2023, after seeing positive behaviours and interactions between the pair, keepers mixed them together. It could not have gone any better, and as they say – the rest was history! Recent visitors to the Sanctuary would see the pair cuddled up either in the big straw beds or sunning themselves on the platform. She saw him as a big playmate to chase around and it was heartwarming to see the bond their bond grow over the months they spent together. 

On her last health check, blood results showed that her kidney values were raised, meaning that they were working harder than they should be for a cat of her age. She was then put on a long-lasting course of treatment to help with their function. Recently Imara had not been her usual self and so she was being closely monitored. Due to no improvement, she was seen by our amazing partner vets at IZVG where it was found that unfortunately she was in the end stage of kidney failure, and so it was decided that the kindest thing was not to bring her round from the anaesthetic.  

Imara will always be remembered as a beautiful cat, who was very loving to Ngozi and then to Kasanga. Imara’s roar which would ring across the Sanctuary grounds will be greatly missed by all that knew her.