A pride of lions that were living at the Bio Park Zoo in Odessa, a southern city in Ukraine that has been impacted by the Russian-Ukraine war, has been airlifted to the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, according to a news release.
"The big cats were urgently relocated when the war first broke by a convoy that journeyed over 600 miles across Ukraine and Moldova, arriving in Targu Mures, Romania, on May 24, 2022. The Targu Mures Zoo provided a temporary home for the animals for several months so that an emergency travel permit could be approved for the eleven lions to board an international rescue flight," the release said.
Seven adult lions, and two cubs were transferred to the Wild Animal Refuge, an extension of Wild Animal Sanctuary that is located near Springfield, on September 29. The other two lions were taken to a game reserve and animal sanctuary in South Africa.
According to the release, this mission was the largest warzone rescue of lions that has ever been carried out.
"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," said Pat Craig, Executive Director of The Wild Animal Sanctuary in the release.
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