Eleven lions airlifted from war-torn Ukraine to safety


Marks one of the largest warzone rescue efforts of lions ever completed

The Wild Animal Sanctuary reported that on Thursday, September 29th, 2022, 9 lions that were rescued from Ukraine arrived safely in Colorado at The Wild Animal Refuge. The other 2 lions traveled to the Simbonga Game Reserve and Sanctuary in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

A lion rescued from the Bio Park Zoo in Odessa, Ukraine (Photo courtesy of The Wild Animal Sanctuary).

A lion rescued from the Bio Park Zoo in Odessa, Ukraine (Photo courtesy of The Wild Animal Sanctuary).

According to an organizational release,1 the pride was living at the Bio Park Zoo in Odessa, a southern port in Ukraine affected by the Russian-Ukraine war and invading Russian military forces. The animals were immediately relocated when the war was initiated by a convoy that traveled more than 600 miles across Ukraine and Moldova, making it to Targu Mures, Romania, on May 24, 2022.

For a few months, the Targu Mures Zoo offered a temporary home for the big cats so an emergency travel permit could be approved for the 11 lions to board an international rescue flight.

The rescue mission consisted of a consortium of global Animal Welfare Agencies collaborating, including Greater Good, The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), Tigers in America - as well as Warriors of Wildlife, and the Simbonga Wildlife Sanctuary in South Africa.

"International rescue operations are almost always more complex in nature, but then you are factoring in a variety of foreign governments and timelines for permitting, some of those with active warzones. We are thankful we could get all the lions out in time and save them. That's what matters. They will live out the rest of their lives in pristine, large, natural habitats," expressed Pat Craig, executive director of The Wild Animal Sanctuary, in the release.1


Eleven lions airlifted from Ukraine in biggest ever warzone rescue. News release. The Wild Animal Sanctuary. October 7, 2022. October 13, 2022. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/eleven-lions-airlifted-from-ukraine-in-biggest-ever-warzone-rescue-301644152.html

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