Rosa Fernandes and her children Justin and Maxine are the proud owners of Jugomaro Predator Park. This wildlife park is home to over 20 lions, tigers, caracals, and jaguars. This park once had huge enclosures, luxurious pools, and fields for the animals to roam around in. The animals were also allowed in the Fernandes’ large home.
Unfortunately, in November of 2015, the family ran into financial difficulties, and they lost their home and predator park. They also sadly had to give away three of their tigers, a caracal, and two wolves. Rosa, Justin, and Maxine love their animals, and they couldn’t bear to part with their remaining big cats.
Instead of buying a new house, the Fernandes family moved into a small trailer in Krugersdorp, South Africa. They built enclosures for their animals just 50 meters away from the trailer.
In their new home, the Fernandes family has to boil all their water, which takes about three hours. They shower in the nearby bushes. Rosa Fernandes told Barcroft:
“It would have been easy for us to just sell our cats and get back on our feet again, but unfortunately, in my family that wasn’t an option. We’d rather having nothing and have our cats.”
While it has been difficult for the family to adjust to their new living situation, one thing hasn’t changed: they deeply love their big cats.
Justin Fernandes is particularly close with the animals. He told Barcroft:
“I see the cats as a big part of my family. These animals mean so much to me that I put my life on the line for them.”
Justin also described what daily life is like with the big cats:
“The daily routine we have with the animals consists of waking up early in the morning, going around and checking if they are all okay. Because I keep contact with the cats every single day, I get to hand-feed them and this is why they are so different towards me. I can do a lot more things with these big cats than what most people can do with their dog.”
In the future, the Fernandes family is hoping to buy better enclosures for their cats. They want their cats to have pools again, and they want to make their environment as natural as possible. Rosa says that she doesn’t mind living in a trailer for another year, but she wants her cats to have a better place to live.
“The most important thing is to give them all proper swimming pools and proper shelters and trees. That’s my dream for them,” Rosa told Barcroft.
The Fernandes family made huge sacrifices to keep their big cats, and they’ve done amazing work providing their animals with excellent care. Check out their whole heartwarming story in the video below.
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