Lions rescued from Ukraine arrived safely in Colorado wild animal sanctuary

Nine lions rescued from the war-torn country of Ukraine arrived safely in Colorado at The Wild Animal Sanctuary Thursday, September 29th, 2022, as part of the largest warzone rescue of lions ever carried out. According to a news release from The Wild Animal Sanctuary.


The pride of lions had been living at the Bio Park Zoo in Odessa, a southern port in Ukraine impacted by the Russian-Ukraine war and invading Russian military forces. 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 24th, 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. From the rescued group of big cats, seven adult lions and two cubs have a new forever home at The Wild Animal Refuge, an extension property of The Wild Animal Sanctuary, with the remaining two lions traveling to the Simbonga Game Reserve and Sanctuary in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

The rescue mission involved a consortium of global Animal Welfare Agencies working together, 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," said Pat Craig, Executive Director of The Wild Animal Sanctuary.