'World's loneliest lion' is finally free after sanctuary adopts him
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Featured Image Credit: Animal Defenders International
The 'world's loneliest lion' is finally on track to make some new friends and we couldn't be happier for him.
According to the animal rescue organisation Animal Defenders International (ADI), he was the only remaining animal left at a private zoo in Armenia that closed five years ago.
New homes were found for the shuttered zoo's other animals, but none had the space and facilities the lion required.
As a result, he was abandoned in a concrete cell where he stayed for five years, his mobility deteriorating due to malnutrition and lack of exercise.
"Lions are the most sociable of the big cats, living in family prides in the wild," ADI President Jan Creamer explained in a statement. "So it must have been devastating for Ruben to have no contact or communication with other lions."
Fortunately, ADI were able to help the 'world's loneliest lion' and, alongside Qatar Airways Cargo's WeQare charity, arranged for Ruben to make 5,200-mile trip to the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary in South Africa.
After a successful flight, Ruben is now settling in to his new home where he will live alongside 32 other rescued lions and tigers.
"Ruben was really in trouble until Qatar Airways Cargo stepped up," Creamer said. "ADI had been funding his care in Armenia since December, and when we could find no flights for him, we feared he could be stuck there."
His habitat at the sanctuary has been adapted with ramps and guard rails to help the lion stay safe while he works on regaining his mobility.
And Ruben seems a whole lot happier in his new home.
In an official news release, ADI said: "Ruben has already started to get his roar back, his morning calls getting steadily louder as he regains his confidence."
"Seeing him walk on grass for the first time, hearing the voices of his own kind, with the African sun on his back, brought us all to tears," said Creamer.
She added that Ruben's demeanour has totally changed since he arrived at the sanctuary, claiming he is a lot less fearful.
"His determination to walk is inspiring. If he stumbles or falls, he just picks himself up and keeps going. He is nothing short of heroic. Incredibly, in just a few days, his movement is already improving," she said.
"We know this will be a long road and will require ongoing veterinary treatment, but the start of his new life could not have been better."
Is anyone else crying?