LION by Alison Lee Rubie
I'm so excited to introduce to you the first of our new bloggers, Big Feline Expert, Sydney-based Alison Lee Rubie!
I remember back to when I got my first stuffed lion toy. It was in a supermarket and I can remember that when I squeezed its belly, a roar sound came out. It was the start of my fascination with big cats. I had $4 on me and I distinctly remember going to the counter by myself to buy it with my pocket money. When the checkout lady scanned the toy it came to $4.95. I was almost heartbroken. However the lady behind us in line kindly offered me the extra $1 to buy that stuffed lion that day. I was ecstatic and I will never forget the kindness of that lady. I still have that lion today and he sits proudly on my bedside table as the beginning of my fascination. (Mind you he is now a part of a bigger pride of stuffed lions, approximately 20 in total I think!) He no longer roars but his roar is echoed in my actions and obsession since that day. I was 5 years old.
I am now 33 years old. My name is Alison Lee Rubie and Sarah has kindly asked me to write about some of my experiences with big cats. I make no claim to being an expert here on big cats but I do have some stories and can share some wisdom with you so I hope you enjoy my blog posts. If you’d like further information on lions you can follow my Facebook and Instagram page Lobby for Lions.
A little more about me. I am a volunteer zookeeper, currently volunteering at Taronga Zoo in the Primates and Ungulates division. I hold a Certificate III in Captive Animals that I obtained last year and since then I have had the privilege to travel to South Africa to work with lions, cheetahs, black leopards, servals and caracals. I am going back in October and I’m sure I’ll have plenty more stories to share but to kick us all off, here is a photo of Bobcat the Lion. Bobcat is a lion that resides at Kevin Richardson’s Kingdom Wildlife Sanctuary in South Africa. I took this photo while on a walk with Bobcat. By that I mean we were safe in the game truck while Kevin and Bobcat walked in front of us. It was a magical experience seeing this lion walk majestically through his natural habitat.
The African Lion – Panthera leo – is currently listed on the IUCN Redlist as a Vulnerable species. There are four classifications of a threatened species (before they reach extinction) – Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered and Critically Endangered. While the African lion is only classified as Vulnerable the rapid decline in numbers suggests that it should fall in the Endangered classification. Numbers have declined from 300,000 to just under 20,000 in the last 20 years and this number continues to fall. But there is always hope and I hold this hope along with the Feline Foundation that through spreading awareness, not for profit organisations supporting the big cats of Africa and many passionate people around the world that we can contribute to building their numbers. We hope that you will join us in this quest by spreading the word, becoming a member of the Feline Foundation and helping to conserve the world in which we live in.