A lion sanctuary in the Free State allows visitors to get up close and personal with Africa’s best-known predators.
Visitors to Glen Garriff Conservation can be caged in a structure made of Plexiglas and steel bars, allowing free-roaming lions within arm’s reach. This unique cage is especially popular with wildlife enthusiasts and was originally featured by a German photographer during his visit to the sanctuary in 2018.
A lion sanctuary near Harrismith in the eastern Free State allows people to get up close and personal with their pride of top predators, locking visitors in a Plexiglas cage for up to 45 minutes at a time.
Glen Garriff (GG) Conservation is a 1,000 hectare lion sanctuary located approximately 6 kilometers from the town of Harrismith in the Free State. Founded in 2002, the pride of the sanctuary has grown to include more than 70 lions and has proven especially popular with international tourists.
GG Conservation’s fame is attributed to its unique “human cage experience” which inverts the traditional zoo dynamic of visitors observing captive animals. In this sanctuary, lions roam free and visitors can choose to be caged in a structure made of plexiglass and tight steel bars. It is the terrestrial equivalent of shark cage diving.
The cage is a favorite among wildlife photographers, who can focus their long lenses through the shuttered windows to take long-range photos of Africa’s best-known carnivores. The concept was introduced by German wildlife photographer Lars Beusker during his visit to the sanctuary in 2018.
“Lars suggested a photography cage and that’s how the concept began. He gave us his design ideas from a professional photographer’s point of view and also the initial donation to get it done, which we did. This was the initial cage and it was all made of metal.” Suzanne Scott of GG Conservation told Business Insider South Africa, adding that the current form of the cage, with Plexiglas, was completed in 2019.
For visitors seeking the experience of being within striking distance of a pride of lions, and to live to tell the tale with photos as proof, a series of “breathing holes” in the plexiglass are suitable for phone cameras.