Big cats make a return to the spotlight today but this time it’s not Thomas Chipperfield and his lovely creatures. It is five who have just been rescued from a life of misery in Romania.
These lions have been in zoo that closed down as it failed to meet European regulations. In other words, they have been forced to live in conditions that are well below the standard those regulations were put in place to enforce.
However, the use of the regulations did not achieve the required result. The animals did not get better conditions, instead the zoo closed its gates.
Now, however, their lives have changed beyond all recognition as the two lions and three lionesses have been given new homes in the a big cat sanctuary in South Africa, all thanks to the effort and hard work of a not-for profit organisation called Four Paws.
When the zoo closed, the lions were left behind in a small concrete enclosure that was totally unsuited to their needs. Not one blade of grass did these magnificent creatures have, when they should really be enjoying a life in their natural surroundings, enjoying grass and other vegetation with trees to give shade from the sun.
It seemed like an impossible dream until Four Paws got to work and, after several months, their workers were able to gain approval to move those five and another from the Netherlands to the Lionnrock Sanctuary in South Africa.
On the Four Paws Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/fourpaws.org, it says: “Before the journey began, the five lions underwent veterinary checks under anaesthesia. All five are in good health and ready for the long journey to South Africa. We will transfer them by car to Frankfurt International Airport, where they will departure on a cargo flight to Johannesburg. It is a long journey – but worth the effort. In less than 48 hours, these five lions will finally be in a species-appropriate home. They will feel the grass underneath their paws, will smell the fresh African air and will enjoy the first warm rays of the South African spring sun.
Now, the lions which were all born in captivity, are treading African soil in the land of their ancestors, and from the videos available on Facebook, they are doing pretty well on it.
The lion from the Netherlands was already in the care of Four Paws having been rescued from its life in Italy. There it had started life being photographed with tourists before being trained to perform. During one performance, there was an accident which led to hi losing his tail.
It would not be feasible to release any of these proud ‘Kings of the Jungle’ into the wild. In fact, it would be quite cruel because, having been captive since birth and used to being fed, they have not learnt the skills needed to hunt their prey or to survive without the help of man.