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February 14, 2012

Leona Lewis' Valentine? An 11-Year-Old Lion Named Samson

Grammy-nominated singer Leona Lewis visits Samson at Fund for Animals Wildlife Center for his 11th birthday

The Humane Society of the United States / The Fund for Animals

  • Singer Leona Lewis drops in to deliver a birthday Valentine to Samson the lion on his 11th birthday. Danny Moloshok/The HSUS

  • Samson considers one of his birthday presents, a heart-shaped pinata. Danny Moloshok/The HSUS

  • Samson snuggles with his birthday present. Danny Moloshok/The HSUS

  • Leona Lewis watches Samson enjoy his gifts with center director, Ali Crumpacker. Danny Moloshok/The HSUS

  • Samson plays with his birthday present the way a lion should. Danny Moloshok/The HSUS

  • Samson came to the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center after spending his infancy as a prop, posing for children’s photographs. C. Jensen/The HSUS

  • Leona Lewis pays a visit to the San Nicolas Island cats, a once-wild cat colony now housed at the center. Danny Moloshok/The HSUS

  • The San Nicolas Island cats also got to celebrate Valentine's Day. Danny Moloshok/The HSUS

Multi-platinum music artist Leona Lewis and partygoers dropped by the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in Ramona, Calif. to celebrate Samson, an African lion, on his 11th birthday.

Samson, who has called our sanctuary his home for all but the first three months of his life, spent his infancy as a prop, traveling the Los Angeles-area mall circuit and posing for children’s photographs. An African lion in captivity might normally live to be about 25, but Samson’s health problems—deformities due to inbreeding for the exotic pet trade—have made it hard to predict how long he’ll live. Now, we mark every one of Samson's birthdays as a miracle.

As a special guest at Samson’s birthday party, Lewis says she hopes to help bring attention to the plight of animals who are rescued from the exotic animal trade.

During her visit, Lewis toured the facilities where we rehabilitate injured and orphaned wildlife and care for 22 permanent residents rescued from the exotic pet trade and other acts of cruelty. Lewis also visited the unique San Nicolas Island cat colony to get to know a few of the 40 cats who call our Ramona facility home. Volunteers regularly spend time with the cats to help socialize them to people.

Last year, the singer's love for animals took her to Texas to support the work of one of our other sanctuaries, Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch.

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