Ifaw the African lion was named in honor of the spectacular International Fund for Animal Welfare, which is responsible for initiating the rescues of many of our residents. As far as we know, Safe Haven was Ifaw’s third and final home. His first home was a roadside zoo in South Dakota.

During his time in South Dakota, Ifaw lost most of his tail. We believe this occurred as a result of him being housed next to, or perhaps with, another big cat who attacked him and bit off his tail. The roadside zoo closed very suddenly and, as a result, the owner abandoned the zoo property including all of the animals being house there. By the time animal rescuers arrived, Ifaw was the only survivor.

Ifaw was then transferred to a facility in Texas that billed itself as a wild animal “orphanage.” This facility house over 400 animals, including 200 primates. We know very little about this facility other than that it was forced to close due to shady financial dealings.

Ifaw was then finally moved to Safe Haven in 2010, where he lived a great life. Ifaw was such a gentle, communicative and easygoing lion given the long and hard road he has had to travel in order to reach his final, permanent home with us. Ifaw was very playful. And we’re not sure why, but he loved playing with the toes on his hind feet. He will lie on his back, kick his hind feet up towards his chest and use his front feet to pull and yank on his rear toes. He could do this for a long time, and it seems to make him very happy. After hours of play, Ifaw would just lie back and take a nap.

When he was not napping in the afternoon sun, Ifaw enjoys spending his mornings and evenings sending out roars to the Safe Haven community. His calls were usually met by the high-pitched howls and yipping of our coyotes. And together, the animals created a little symphony of calls that truly captures the life and spirit that is Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary.

About African Lions

The African lion’s mane helps to protect them when fighting. Roaring establishes their territory and can be heard as far as five miles away.

About Ifaw

Common Name: African Lion

Gender: Male

Age: 17 years old

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