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'World's loneliest lion' finally gets moved to sanctuary after spending years in a cell at closed zoo

Stewart Perrie

Published 
| Last updated 

'World's loneliest lion' finally gets moved to sanctuary after spending years in a cell at closed zoo

A lion has finally been moved to a sanctuary in South Africa after spending years crammed inside a small facility at a closed zoo in Europe.

Ruben had been living at a private zoo in Armenia ever since it was shut down five years ago.

The 15-year-old majestic animal was the only animal left and there has been a humungous effort to get him to a better location to live out the rest of his days in happiness.

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Animal Defenders International (ADI) was the organisation behind this herculean move and they teamed up with Qatar Airways Cargo to move him south towards Africa.

While other animals were able to find a forever home after the zoo was closed, Rueben was too large to take.

He was left to sit in a small, concrete cell that caused his health to deteriorate due to malnutrition and lack of exercise.

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According to PEOPLE, he earned the nickname the 'loneliest lion in the world' as a result of his conditions.

Rueben was placed in a pressurised, temperature-controlled hold of the plane and was transported to South Africa.

ADI said on its website: "Ruben has suspected neurological/spinal issues which we are hoping can be treated in South Africa.

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"He can be unsteady on his feet and that is why we have built his ‘special needs’ habitat with ramps and low platforms.

"We know everyone is very excited to see Ruben step out onto the African soil, but we will be taking this slower than usual.

"Ruben may feel a little hesitant or stiff, or feel disorientated, so we will likely release him into his house at first. Then, if he seems OK, he can go into the smaller section of the habitat.

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"Later, he can go into the larger area. And of course, he is a cat, so he might change the plan."

He was moved at the end of August and it seems as though he's taken to the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary very well.

The ADI says he spent the night of August 31 sleeping under the stars for the first time in his life.

"It was a beautiful evening and he decided to stay outside in the warmth of the sunset," they said on Facebook.

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"He was monitored all night, eventually moving to sleep in his A frame shelter.

"In the morning, he was very active and vocal and seemed to be pleased with asserting his right to choose!

"Ruben is setting the pace for his new life."

Featured Image Credit: Facebook/Animal Defenders International

Topics: Animals

Stewart Perrie
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