Lonely elderly lion abandoned at zoo touches grass for the first time in Africa

In a heartwarming tale of rescue and redemption, a 15-year-old lion named Ruben has finally tasted freedom after being abandoned in a cage at a private zoo. This remarkable transformation was made possible by the dedicated efforts of Animal Defenders International (ADI), who orchestrated Ruben’s journey from captivity in Armenia to a sanctuary in South Africa.

Ruben’s tragic story began when the private zoo that housed him closed its doors, leaving him behind. Abandoned and forgotten, he spent over five long years in a barren enclosure, isolated from the world. His existence was characterized by nothing more than concrete walls and steel bars. While kind-hearted individuals occasionally passed food through the bars, Ruben’s life lacked the essential elements of companionship and freedom.

What added to Ruben’s suffering was the fact that he had lost his ability to communicate like a lion should. Lions are social creatures that thrive on vocal interactions, with their roars carrying for miles. Tragically, Ruben had stopped “talking” due to his isolation. ADI explained, “When he roared, no one roared back, so he just gave up on roaring, which is one of the saddest things.”

ADI’s journey to rescue Ruben was marked by meticulous planning and care. They collaborated with Qatar Airways Cargo to ensure the lion’s safe transportation. A custom crate was constructed to shield Ruben from the sun’s harsh rays, and the inside was sprayed with lavender and Feliway, a cat-calming hormone.

During the journey, Ruben seemed to sense that something positive was happening. His demeanor remained remarkably calm throughout the entire voyage.

The moment of Ruben’s liberation was nothing short of magical. Stepping out of his crate, he gingerly touched grass for the first time in his life. His eyes filled with wonder as he gazed up at the open sky, basking in the warmth of the sun. The freedom to move and the sight of birds flying overhead were novel experiences that filled his heart with joy. Ruben sat down, allowing the wind to ruffle his majestic mane, relishing the simple pleasure of being alive.

This awe-inspiring moment justified all the efforts made by ADI and reaffirmed their commitment to animal welfare. Ruben’s journey towards recovery and rehabilitation had just begun.

ADI continued to share updates on Ruben’s progress via their Instagram channel. Despite facing difficulties in walking due to years of confinement, Ruben displayed incredible determination, gradually regaining his strength. He could now complete a full circuit of his camp without stumbling.

One of the most encouraging developments was Ruben finding his voice once more. His once-muted roar was growing louder, a symbol of his resurgence. ADI shared: “Ruben’s roar is getting louder, and he is listening to the roars of the residents next door… He’s a big boy, and we think he is going to have a very loud roar one day!”

The remarkable transformation of Ruben, from a forgotten captive to a roaring symbol of resilience, is a testament to the power of compassion and dedication. Animal Defenders International’s unwavering commitment to Ruben’s cause has given him a second chance at life, reminding us all of the importance of protecting and preserving the world’s precious wildlife.

To support the noble efforts of Animal Defenders International, please visit their website and contribute to their mission of rescuing and rehabilitating animals like Ruben, giving them the chance to live their lives in freedom and dignity.