Four lions rescued that had been kept in hellish conditions in captivity in the Ukraine have arrived at their new home in the Kragga Kamma Game Park in Port Elizabeth, Herald LIVE reported.
The four felines were reportedly flown into Port Elizabeth on Wednesday evening and trucked out to the park.
The one male and three female lions – Nathan, Charlie, Luca and Kai – will be spending the rest of their days in their natural habitat, SABC reported. Several organisations reportedly donated funds for the relocating.
They spent Wednesday night in a protective night house before being released into their spacious new home – a 1 500m² enclosure on Thursday, according to Herald LIVE.
End of long journey
It marks the end of a lengthy and laborious effort by Lionel de Lange, a native of Port Elizabeth and now the executive director of the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation in the Ukraine.
De Lange found three of the lions living in a 35m² concrete enclosure, where they were forced to live in their own urine and faeces for almost three years after leaving a circus in Ukraine.
When he came across those lions he could simply not look the other way, Port Elizabeth Express reported.
“I was preparing to rescue bears when I came across them. The smell was horrible when I found them, and I could not leave them there.
Slept in urine and faeces
“They were in a concrete cage with no direct sunshine or even rain, and no decent ventilation. Except for the front, the entire cage was closed. They literally slept in their own urine and stool because there was no other place to lock them up in order to clean the cage.”
De Lange said the lions were, however, not malnourished.
While De Lange negotiated with the owner of the lions, he was informed of a lion cub in distress.
A circus boss took the cub, Nathan, away at two months old to train for circus tricks.
“We were lucky to be able to take him away too, because his life would get much worse going forward,” said De Lange.
Ayesha Cantor, co-owner of the Kragga Kamma Game Reserve in Port Elizabeth, was pleasantly surprised when she heard a fourth lion will soon be part of this park’s first lion pride.
Love for wildlife
According to Cantor, De Lange is an old friend who advocated the situation of the three lionesses last year and she could not help but offer a new home for the lions.
“We are in the industry because we have a love for wildlife. After hearing the story of the lions we could not help but say yes,” Cantor said.
The park was granted a permit to keep the lions and major construction work for their camp was begun.
Besides the nearly R150 000 it cost for the lion’s fence, and the approximately R500 000 to bring the lions to South Africa, Cantor and De Lange believe it was worth resettling the lions.