Four Paws Returns Captive Lions to Life in Africa

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Four Paws Returns Captive Lions to Life in Africa

From Four Paws International
June 2009

Four Paws transferred seven lions from European zoos to a new home in the South African big cat sanctuary LionsRock on Friday. The four Austrian lions, along with their Romanian counterparts, will finally live their lives according to their natural requirements.


Cezar is one of the three new arrivals from the horrible zoo in Tecuci, Romania. In his first four weeks at LionsRock he has made a speedy and almost miraculous recovery from his previous ailing. Whether Cezar would be fit for the long journey to South Africa had been in question prior to the departure. The way the 16-year-old lion has responded to the care given to him by the Four Paws staff is a splendid example of the healing effect a natural habitat can have on a wild animal.

The Austrian lions were one of the main attractions at a private zoo in Carinthia, southern Austria. Laas (13), Suga (16), Bonnie and Clyde (7) were raised by the owner. The zoo no longer complies with modern standards and was unable to finance the necessary alterations required to remain open. It closed in 2008. In October of the same year, FOUR PAWS was approached by the owners with the request to offer the lions a new home.

The lions’ owners did everything they could to care for the animals. However, this case shows once again that wild animals should never be held in captivity. We are proud to be able to offer the lions a new home that meets their needs, and gives them a better life.

A new future also awaits the three Romanian lions. Octavian (6), Cezar (15) and Aurica (6) were kept in a zoo in Tecuci, Romania. The zoo was closed down in October 2007 because it also no longer met European standards. These lions, too, have now found a new home in LionsRock.

LionsRock offers animals in captivity an environment which meets their needs, but where they are safe from predators. These seven lions now have a chance for a better life, but there are still many wild animals throughout the world suffering in captivity.

The road to the new home took the animals first to Frankfurt Airport, and then by airplane to OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg. Following a ten-hour flight, the animals were loaded onto a truck for the last leg of the journey. Three hours later, they reached their destination – the big cat sanctuary near Bethlehem in the South African province of Free State.

This is only the first step in the new life of the lions at LionsRock. For the next six months they will be carefully monitored and provided with any health care required. They will then be moved to larger enclosures where they can live in peace and dignity for the rest of their lives.

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