New home for Ukraine lions

New home for Ukraine lions

RESCUED LIONESS: Leaving Ukraine conflict for a Dijon animal park Photo credit: IFAW/M&M Zoo Services Photo credit: IFAW/M&M Zoo Services

After an 88-hour journey from Kyiv, three lions are now safely installed at Parc de l’Auxois near Dijon in Burgundy.

The big cats’ evacuation operation was arranged and carried out by the Dijon park, nonprofit organisation, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and Wild Animal Rescue.

Atlas, a two-and-a-half-year-old male, was rescued from a private owner in the Kyiv region after displaying aggressive behaviour, probably caused by the sound of nearby bombing and living in an unsuitably small, concrete enclosure. When found, he had injuries and was also very overweight.

Two females called Luladja and Queen are both around two years old and were rescued together from Ukraine’s eastern front.

All three were temporarily placed at the Wild Animal Rescue centre near Kyiv, run by Natalia Popova and Help Animals of Ukraine.

With support from IFAW, Natalia was able to move the lions to the Polish-Ukrainian border, after which the animal transportation company M&M Zoo Service took them to Dijon.

“Atlas, Luladja and Queen are unexpected victims of war,” Natalia Gozak, Wildlife Rescue Field Officer (Ukraine) at IFAW, said.

“Lions that should be in Africa are being kept in poor conditions in a country ravaged by war,” she added. “At Parc de l’Auxois, a life of safety and security awaits them, and we are so relieved they are out of harm’s way.”

Big cats bred in captivity have limited care options and because they cannot be released back to the wild, rescue organisations like IFAW work hard to locate homes where they will receive lifelong care.

“Lions rescued from these situations, sadly won’t have the skills to survive in the wild,” Gozak explained. “With the ongoing war, people keeping wild animals as pets have had to hand them in, creating a tidal wave of these animals needing homes, which are already in short supply.”

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Written by

Linda Hall

Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at