Lioness Nora at LIONSROCK

LIONs nora († 2023) and Giovanni († 2022)

Abused as a circus animal


Lioness Nora was used and exploited as a circus animal and ended up in the Netherlands. In the summer of 2014 the lioness was brought to LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa, where she is now enjoying her forever home.

Expelled from the pride

Nora was born in 2003 yet in a Swiss zoo, together with her siblings Kongo and Neida. At the age of five months, they were brought to a German circus. For years, they were forced to perform in shows. Eventually Nora (and her siblings) ended up in the rescue centre in the Netherlands. After the take-over of the centre by FOUR PAWS, Nora and her siblings belonged to the first six animals that made the transfer to LIONSROCK in the summer of 2014. There, the trio proved how stubborn cats can be: shortly after their arrival Nora was attacked by her siblings and later on expelled from the little pride. The team of LIONSROCK moved Nora to another enclosure where she met again with her old and new neigbour: Giovanni. Lion Giovanni was born in Italy where he was abused as a 'photo lion' on the beach and later on forced to perform in shows. Eventually he also ended up in the Netherlands.

A love story

Right from the beginning Giovanni started showing signs of interest in the beautiful lioness. Eventually, after living next to each other for a long time with a lot of positive interactions, the two lions were socialised on September 19th, 2018. Giovanni immediately was very protective over Nora and was, at the same time, both curious towards and scared of her tail. As he is missing his own tail since he was very young, this was completely new to him! Nora felt very confident from the first moment and his 'awkward' behaviour did not put her off at all. They were meant to be together.

Lions Giovanni and Nora

Giovanni and Nora in LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary

Update June 2022: Farewell beautiful Giovanni

Partner of Nora, lion Giovanni is not with us anymore. Known also as Gio, the 18-year-old lion was examined by the vets mid of June, after he started showing signs of shortage in breathing. Initially he was given medication with some improvement, but the x-rays unfortunately showed that his lungs were compromised. After detailed consultation and analyses with the vets, the staff at LIONSROCK had to make the difficult decision and let lion Gio go. This in order to stop him from suffering and unbearable pain that could not be stopped.

Nora has spent the last five years with lion Gio. The two lions had formed a very strong bond and loved spending time together. Although we believe that Nora knew that Gio had become ill, the loss was still sudden. Nora will be monitored closely.

Update September 2023: You will never be forgotten, beautiful Nora

After her partner Giovanni passed away, Nora remained in the special care unit. She had several health issues which were mostly old age related and recently deteriorated fast. As hard as it was for all of us, we had to let her go. 

Nora’s life journey at LIONSROCK is an example that sometimes more changes happen in the life of the animals, after the arrival at their new forever home. And although these changes happen for a reason, they can become something even better and more enriching, and that was Nora’s life at LIONSROCK.


  • Born in Switzerland on February 6th, 2003
  • She used to live in a pride with her brother Kongo and sister Neida
  • She is a very confident lioness
  • Lives in LIONSROCK since 2014
  • Nora lived together with Giovanni 

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