Three lions have been rescued from war-torn Ukraine.
A male and two females arrived safely at Parc de l’Auxois near Dijon, France after traveling for nearly four days.
The evacuation of the big cats has been carried out by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), Wild Animal Rescue and Parc de l’Auxois.
Their new home at the wildlife park is described as “a wonderfully spacious enclosure of about 5,000 sqm.
The male, Atlas, is a two-and-a-half-year-old lion rescued from a private owner in the Kyiv region after he started showing aggressive behavior, believed to be caused by the sounds of nearby bombing and his unsuitable small, concrete enclosure. He was found with wounds and was severely overweight.
The two females, called Luladja and Queen, are both about two years old and were rescued together from Ukraine’s eastern front.
The lions were temporarily placed at the Wild Animal Rescue center based near Kyiv, jointly operated by Natalia Popova and Help Animals of Ukraine. With support from IFAW, she was able to take the lions to the Polish-Ukrainian border. From there, animal transportation company M&M Zoo Service took them to their final destination in France.
“Atlas, Luladja and Queen are the unexpected victims of war – lions that should be in Africa, being kept in poor conditions in a country ravaged by war”, says Natalia Gozak, Wildlife Rescue Field Officer (Ukraine) at IFAW. “At Parc de l’Auxois, a life of safety and security awaits them, and we are so relieved they are out of harm’s way.”
As the majority of big cats bred in captivity have limited care options and cannot be released back to the wild, rescue organizations say they have been working hard to identify suitable homes where they will receive lifelong care.
“Animals such as lions born in captivity and rescued from these situations, sadly won’t have the skills to survive in the wild. With the ongoing war, people keeping wild animals as pets have had to give them in, creating a tidal wave of these animals needing homes – something that is already in short supply,” added Gozak. “Lions do not make suitable pets – they are wild animals so require expert specialist care to best meet their physical and psychological needs.”
“It’s a scary time for everyone here in Ukraine. I am relieved that these three lions are now on their way to a better life in France,” Natalia Popova, Wild Animal Rescue, said.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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