Leopard Bakari at LIONSROCK

Leopard bakari

Abused as 'selfie animal'


Life was not easy for this beautiful leopard. Bakari was originally born in a German zoo in November 2009, where his only purpose was to take pictures with visitors during a Christmas dinner. After the event was over, he was not needed any longer. On 18 January 2010, Bakari arrived at the sanctuary in the Netherlands that is now FELIDA Big Cat Sanctuary, so he was only two months old. Bakari is a symbol that today's throwaway society does not care if it is a good or a living creature they are getting rid of.  

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Surrounded by lions

When Bakari could no longer be used as a 'photo cub', it turned out there was actually no place for Bakari in the zoo. He could then come to the rescue centre in Nijeberkoop, the Netherlands, but life did not improve for Bakari at first. He was locked up in a very small enclosure with barely any distractions, and was surrounded by lions: his natural enemies in the wild. When FOUR PAWS took over the rescue centre and named it FELIDA Big Cat Sanctuary, Bakari's life finally took a positive turn. His enclosure was enlarged, enrichment was applied and Bakari finally became the confident leopard he was supposed to be. 

Preparations and training

Despite all the improvements to his enclosure and the daily special care, it was clear that Bakari still needed more space. In FELIDA Big Cat Sanctuary, this space could not be given to him. Bakari was ready for the next and final step: a transfer to LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa!
In FELIDA, Bakari was prepared for this journey for several months. The animal caretakers trained Bakari, with positive enforcement training, to walk into his transport crate voluntarily. In this way, he did not have to be put under anaesthesia on the actual day of the transfer, which made the trip a lot less stressful for him. And to make the trip even better, Bakari's favourite FELIDA animal caretaker Erin Timmer accompanied him during the entire journey!


On November 4th, 2016 Bakari was finally home! After a long journey the final release moment was there. The first half an hour after his release, Bakari found it all very exciting and overwhelming. But soon enough he begun discovering his new home curiously. Later that day, Bakari was already climbing in the highest trees, jumping on his new platforms, running over the fields and playing as if he had never been elsewhere! After two weeks in his adaption enclosure, Bakari was released into his forever home. Today he still enjoys his life under the African sun to the fullest. Bakari has found his roots. He is home.


  • Born in Germany on November 20th, 2009
  • Abused as a 'photo cub' during Christmas dinner
  • Very playful with all kinds of enrichment
  • A bit of a 'loner', not interested in neighbour leopards Mike and Tulani
  • Although there are many trees in the enclosure, one tree is his favourite
  • Lives in an 'old tiger enclosure' which contains a pool. Although he does not like to swim and the pool is not filled with water, he likes to shortly walk through it when it is extremely warm because the rain water stays in the pool.

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