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Rescued lions from Albanian horror zoo arrive at new home


FOUR PAWS brings Lenci, Zhaku and Bobby to Dutch Big Cat Centre FELIDA

 

13.5.2019 – International animal protection organisation FOUR PAWS has successfully transferred three male lions  from their temporary home at Tirana Zoo to an animal sanctuary in the Netherlands. The three male lions, Lenci, Bobby and Zhaku, were rescued in October 2018 during a spectacular rescue mission from the notorious Safari Park Zoo in Fier, Albania. After years of suffering in inappropriate conditions, the lions can now finally begin a dignified and better life.

 

On 7 May, the lions started their journey from Tirana Zoo to Nijeberkoop in the Netherlands, where FELIDA Big Cat Centre FELIDA is located. The FOUR PAWS team travelled 52 hours and almost 3,000 kilometres to bring the lions to their new home.

 

Lenci, Zhaku and Bobby are doing well after their long journey, showing cautious curiosity as they explored the new surroundings. Veterinarian Marc Gölkel from the Leibnitz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) was part of the rescue team in October 2018 and has again accompanied the transfer to ensure the well-being of the animals. Prior to their departure, Gölkel gave the go-ahead for the journey after a short medical examination.

 

“Overall, the health of all three has improved since their rescue. Lenci’s inflamed eye has healed well. The tests have shown that Bobby has kidney problems, and Zhaku has skin inflammation. In addition, all three lions need dental treatment. We will take care of that as soon as they have adjusted at FELIDA,” says Gölkel.

 

Spectacular rescue from “Europe’s worst zoo”

Since December 2015, FOUR PAWS had investigated the Safari Park Zoo in Fier several times, but it was not until October 2018 that intervention was possible. Photos from inside the zoo showed the terrible conditions the animals had to live in.

 

International media started labelling Safari Park Zoo as “Europe’s worst zoo” and “Zoo from Hell”. After an international outcry, the Albanian government decided to confiscate all wildlife from the zoo with FOUR PAWS supporting them. The rescue of the animals proved to be extremely demanding, but the experienced team was able to free eleven animals from the small, dirty concrete enclosures and bring them to safety. Today all the rescued animals have found new homes at different sanctuaries.

 

“After years of torture they now finally get the specialised care they desperately need from our experienced team. In FELIDA they can enjoy the sun and grass in their new enclosure,” says Ioana Dungler, Director of the Wild Animals Department at FOUR PAWS, and responsible for rescuing the animals from Safari Park Zoo.

 

A home for traumatised big cats

The FOUR PAWS Big Cat Centre FELIDA in the Netherlands functions as a special care centre for physically and mentally traumatised big cats. The big cats that recover from the hardships of their past can then be transferred to the FOUR PAWS Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK in South Africa. Others might need lifelong special care and stay at FELIDA permanently. After the arrival of Lenci, Bobby and Zhaku, two tigers and six lions currently live at FELIDA.


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