Lions rescued from war-torn Ukraine find home at sanctuary in Colorado

Russia is 'on the back foot' in Ukraine says Elwood

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Lions that were rescued from a zoo in war-torn Ukraine have found sanctuary in Colorado. The animals were “urgently relocated” from Bio Park Zoo in Odesa just after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24 2022. They travelled more than 600 miles, first being moved in convoy from Odesa through Moldova and into Romania.

They arrived in Romania’s Targu Mures Zoo in Transylvania on May 24.

The lions lived at the zoo in Romania for months, waiting for an emergency travel permit so they could board a rescue flight.

They only arrived at their final home, The Wild Animal Sanctuary, in Colorado on September 29.

The sanctuary is a nonprofit based in Keenesburg.

Seven adult lions and two cubs from the rescued pride are now being cared for by the sanctuary.

The lions will live at an extension of the sanctuary called The Wild Animal Refuge, which consists of almost 10,000 acres of land near Springfield, Colorado.

The facility is not open to the public, according to the sanctuary’s website.

Another two lions from Ukraine were sent to the Simbonga Game Reserve and Sanctuary in Eastern Cape, South Africa, according to the sanctuary.

On Facebook, the South African reserve said they received two lions, Mir and Simba, who had been rescued from Ukraine.

Since the war in Ukraine began, the US Defense Department has estimated that as many as 80,000 Russian troops may have been killed or wounded.

Ukraine has put up fierce resistance to Russia’s invasion, retaking more than 6,000 sq km of land since the start of September, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

The ISW said Russian forces are facing a “major operational defeat”.

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On September 21, Putin announced a “partial mobilisation” of Russian troops, the country’s first since World War 2.

An organisation called Breaking the Chains has been working to rescue stranded animals from the war-torn country.

One volunteer with the organisation, known as Tom S-N, has rescued more than 3,000 animals.

He told the Daily Star: “There is no situation I wouldn’t put myself in to rescue an animal. Animals have given me life, peace and love. Everything I do is for them.”

Mr S-N, who previously served in Afghanistan and Iraq, entered the conflict zone from the Romanian border with a friend to rescue 70 dogs in a shelter near the frontline, east of Kharkiv.

Speaking about the mission he said: “A one-vehicle military escort guided us to the shelter.

“We drove through the city which was derelict, like a scene from a zombie apocalypse with only wild boars roaming the snow-covered streets.

“When we got to the shelter, we were 500 metres from the Russian frontline.

“Bombs were dropping either side of us, rounds whistled overhead and shells were dropping 10 or 15 metres from the walls so we had to move quickly.

“In the end, we got all 70 dogs evacuated within an hour.”

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