It’s questionable whether big cats like lions and tigers belong in zoos at all, even in spacious “habitats” of the sort you’ll see at a nice, modern one. Small cages or enclosures with bare concrete floors are definitely not where such magnificent animals should be. But that’s exactly where five lions ended up languishing for three years.
These lions were born in Italy and 2003 and then sold to a zoo in northern Romania. After the zoo closed down, they found themselves living in a small concrete enclosure between some greenhouses and a garbage dump. There was already a surplus of lions in the country, so they had practically no chance of finding a new home. “The veterinarian that took care of them didn’t want to give up and didn’t accept the possibility that these animals will be put to sleep,” according to Iona Dugler, the director of Wild Animals at the Four Paws International animal rescue organization.
And speaking of Four Paws, when the group heard about this situation, they swung into action and were eventually able to find a home for the five lions. For all the local veterinarian’s efforts, three years in such bad conditions had taken a toll, so help could not have arrived any sooner. The team from Four Paws used tranquilizer darts to knock the lions out so they could be carried to special shipping crates. Once at the airport, they were loaded on a plane for the long flight to South Africa.
As you’ll see in the video posted below, it was an amazing thing to see when the lions were released at their new home in South Africa, the Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary. For the first time, these big cats got to feel grass under their paws, sniff the fresh savanna air, and enjoy running around freely.
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