3RD RESCUE - LUKE, DEMIRA, DIYA  & FRIEDA TO LLA FEB 2020. Read there story below.

In February 2020 we relocated another 4 lions after they were rescued nearly a year earlier from Ukraine to South Africa. Luke, Demira, Diya & Frieda, were relocated to the Love Lions Alive Project, where rescued captive lions can live out their lives as naturally as possible.

Luke: 5 year old male when we rescued him, born into captivity in Ukraine. Luke was taken from his mother as a tiny cub only a couple weeks old to be used for cub petting and human interaction. This made him very tame resulting in him being trained for the circus as he got older. After a couple years of preforming Luke refused to perform any longer so his owner got rid of him. He was moved to a private zoo where he was exposed to the freezing winter elements (-20 C), living in hideous conditions, his cage littered with piles of his own feaces and urine. Luke was also suffering from malnutrition and he became very ill and needed urgent care. With the trust of strangers donating to this rescue, we were able to nurse Luke back to health but he was still extremely weak with nearly no muscle mass from living in a 1.5m x 1.5m travel crate and getting no exercise. Unfortunately, we were not able to rescue and save all the animals at the zoo and a young lion died of starvation and a blind lioness simply vanished. Luke as you can see is a now healthy, big and strong, and in our possibly biased opinion, a very handsome fellow.

Update, Love is in the air: Andi and Line from LLA took in Phuku from a lion facility in South Africa where she was lucky enough not to be poisoned by poachers who tried a couple of times to get the lions for their body parts. Unfortunately the other lions that were with her ate the poisoned meat and were hacked up for their parts. Phuku was a very sick girl who had a number of medical issues but Andi and Line did a tremendous job getting her healthy and she was eventually put in an enclosure next to Luke. It did not take long and they were flirting through the fence and after watching them for a few weeks Andi and Line made the decision to put them together so that they could have their own little pride consisting of just the 2 of them as Phuku is sterilized and there is a no breeding policy at LLA. It was an immediate attraction with no aggression from either at all which is awesome as some of these socializing attempts can go horribly wrong. They now have each other and never have to be alone again.

 Diya & Frieda: Known by the team as the inseparable girls, these two lionesses have captured everyone’s heart with their unique bond. They were both nearly 2 years old at the time of relocation and are from different touch and contact zoos with similar stories of becoming too big to handle. Fortunately, we got wind of these cubs early and were able to negotiate their release into our care. With this gorgeous pair being so young, we were able to put them together, ensuring they would never have to spend the rest of their lives alone like so many other captive bred animals. Frieda and Diya instantly formed a special bond, as if they were long lost sisters. We believe they had been so lonely and desperate for company, that they relied to each other for support.
Diya has been super healthy since day one, but in November 2019 little Frieda got extremely ill and had to be moved from our holding facility in west Ukraine to another holding area in Borispol, Kyiv, to allow us to give her the very best specialized medical attention she needed. Frieda was diagnosed with Vitamin deficiencies and Toxoplasmosis which is a disease that results from infection with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, one of the world's most common parasites. Infection usually occurs by eating under-cooked contaminated meat, exposure from infected cat faeces, or mother-to-cub transmission during pregnancy. At that stage we were devastated to have to split Diya and Frieda up, it was the worst day of our lives to see them stress and try to get at each other through the bars of their holding cages. Even though they were right next to each other in separate cages, they desperately wanted to feel each other’s closeness. After a few weeks of medical care, Frieda showed a superb recovery and we were thrilled to be able to put them together again. It was beautiful to see them reunited and their love for each other.

Demira: She was also taken from her mother at a very young age for cub petting and human interaction like so many captive bred animals. When the breeder saw she was getting to large and boisterous for children to handle he decided he had to ‘make a plan’ and get rid of her fast. The breeder gave her as a gift to the head priest at a monastery, who in turn asked the nuns to take care of her. As Demira got older the nuns could no longer handle her strength or supply enough food to sustain her growth and she started suffering from malnutrition. We heard about her through one of the nun’s friends and immediately made contact and got the priest to agree to give her up to us. We were able to get her to a vet, correct her diet and treat her for all sorts of issues that accompany malnutrition not the least of which are major Vitamin deficiencies which if not corrected early can lead to long term damage of her organs. It took 11 months for us to get her documentation approved to relocate her to South Africa. She is now a big strong girl with an amazing personality, who sadly might have had to spend the rest of her life alone as it’s not easy to socialize lions at the sub-adult or adult stage but.........
UPDATE: Line and Andi have done it again and successfully introduced Demira to Frieda & Diya. They noticed that all 3 were very curious of each other with Demira watching them at play constantly and then following them up and down the fence line. After monitoring them for a couple weeks Andi and Line made the decision to put them together and opened the connecting gate and waited. It took a while but they ventured in and out of each other’s camps and again, surprisingly there was no aggression. It was not long before all 3 were running around playing. The timing was perfect because Diya and Frieda were older, stronger and more confident and could have turned on Demira but fortunately they were still young and playful and it worked out perfectly.

The lions arrived in South Africa on the 5th of February 2020 after 2 international flights and 4.5 hour road trip. They arrived at Love Lions Alive near Harrismith as the sun was setting and a summer thunderstorm let loose. I think it was Africa welcoming them home.