Sophie the Lioness

This is not the Lion King, an American animated story about Simba, Nala, Mufasa, or Scar. This is a true story about Sophie, a lioness handraised successfully at the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre.

In Uganda’s oldest, best-known and biggest nature reserve northwest of Kampala, a litter of lion cubs was born in July 2016. Their mother fiercely defended, fed and protected them from predators. One day, at the Murchison Falls National Park, baby Sophie playfully got trapped in a hole by the road. It is presumed that mama Sophie had tried to rescue her baby,before she left her helpless. She continued her journey with her other cubs. Later on, as the rangers carried out routine day patrols, they heard softer meows and moans. They were concerned and followed the sound that led them to Sophie who was crying for help. They got her out, looked after her as they mounted a search for her family. During that time, they fed her on water and cow’s milk which is a good source of protein, calcium and other nutrients. Her family was out of sight, and the only option was to deliver her to Entebbe as part of the rescue, and rehabilitation program.

On a weekend, upon arrival in a home made hay box she weighed 980 grams. The animal caregivers had no special food for her.They searched the hospital until they came across Esbilac, a milk formula which is closest in composition to lioness milk with essential nutrients. Much as It had been fed on the cheetahs (Pian & Upe), the remainder was vital for Sophie’s survival. She was bottle fed for two months, and weaned after that( introduced to solid foods). Her diet comprised of lean mince , egg yolk and egg shells. With the guidance of the Vets, the caregiver Barbra added more nutrients with small quantities of milk. Sophie enjoyed her meals 4 times a day which were gradually reduced to 3 times a day. At 3 months, the lion cub was introduced to beef bone and a quarter kilograms of meat. During the day, she had a right to environmental enrichment where she took a walk from the veterinary hospital to the farm. She loved playing on the lawns and chasing insects. Barbra introduced a stick in her room to play with since she had reached a stage where she loved to bite.

Today, Sophie is a 3-year-old sleek and beautiful lioness. She turns 4 in July and sooner or later she will conceive. She is named Sophie after the wife of her sponsor from Asia who untiringly donated milk formula to ensure her survival.

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