Ukraine and Bloemfontein rescues

Rescues 2020

Ukrainian Zoo Lions 2018 - 2020

Love Lions Alive Sanctuary participated in the rescue and relocation of lions from caged lives in Ukraine. We were contacted in November 2018 and asked if we would be able to take 7 lions from a zoo in a town called Povkrovsk in Donetsk, Ukraine.

Lionel De Lange of the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization was involved on the Ukrainian end and he was looking for an ethical sanctuary he could send the lions too. We saw photos of the lions in crates and became instantly and completely committed to helping those lions. Those 7 individuals. We knew with every fibre of our beings that we would do anything to give them a better life.We also realised, and actually exclaimed aloud on realising this, that we were actually in a position to help give them a better life, which was not something most people could say.

So we said yes to building the 7 lions forever homes at LLA and to looking after their every need for the rest of their lives.

The Ukrainian goverment had to legally confiscate the lions and order the removal of the animals (there were bears rescued at the same time) but Igor Padalko would not allow anyone onto his property. Time ticked on by while nothing happened, eventually Padalko was arrested for child abuse and a man by the name of Aleksander Pylyshenko went in and removed the animals, taking them into temporary care at his own Home Zoo in Vasylivka in the Zaporozhye.

Luke in his 1.5mx1.5m metal box
Luke in his 1.5mx1.5m metal box
Richie, now called Cecil in his makeshift cage
Richie, now called Cecil in his makeshift cage
Luke looking at Igor Palolski his captor
Luke looking at Igor Palolski his captor
Cecil hurt his forehead banging it against the bars
Cecil hurt his forehead banging it against the bars
The blind lion who dissappeared
The blind lion who dissappeared

He found one lion had died of cold during the previous winter and the blind lion was simply not in his cage. He was never found, dead or alive. 

5 lions were moved to Pylyshenko's zoo. Sadly one of the males was simply too weak and he died soon after arriving there. The remaining 4 lions were renaimed Luke, Cecil, Joy and Zanda. Only Luke has reached LLA. 

Andi and Line from LLA flew to Ukraine to work with LAEO to get him from Pylyshenko and fly with him back to South Africa.

Lionel and Anya are working tirelessly to get the paperwork for Cecil, Joy and Zanda so that they too can move to our sanctuary.

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Luke drinking
Luke exploring
Luke looking
Luke smiling
Luke walking

Luke indulging his senses in his new home at LLA


Demira -

Lionel De Lange & Anya Masyach of Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization (Ukraine) were contacted by a Priest in Ukraine telling them of a Monastery that had a lioness living in a cage. The nuns were not able to feed a lioness who ate more and more as she grew into adulthood. They had been given her as a present when she was a cub. Her name was Asya (changed in the LAEO rescue to Demira).

Diya -

A lone cub with no name was found at the zoo, this is a story LLA does not completely know. But during the first stages of the rescue of the lions from Palolski's zoo, LAEO contacted us to say a cub had feen found at the zoo and would we be able to give her a home. We thought that she was at the same zoo as the 7 Lions (above story). In our minds she joined that gang and yes, of course we'd also give her a home. We were however very worried that she was to live alone and so we looked to other ethical lion sanctuaries to see if any of them might also be rescuing, or have already taken in, a single young lion who this little one could go and live with. For us it is about the life each individual lions gets to live for the rest of their natural lifespan. It was while we were in discussion about this, that Lionel was asked to rescue a lioness of a similar age to Diya...

Frieda -

Having been someone's pet, Frieda had grown up in an apartment, been driven around in a car and been played with. When she grew too big for this (which every pet lion does), she was given to an animal park where she was housed in a perspex exhibition room for people to view. She had little to no ventilation and she developed congunctivtus which made her aesthetically unappealing and thus became disposble. LAEO quickly arranged for her to be collected and she and Diya were moved together to a temporary holding facility in which they could bond whilst they waited to be moved to LLA

All 3 of these lionesses were picked up by LAEO and LLA on the 3rd Feb 2020 from their holding facility in Borispol, Kyev and subsequently flown to South Africa.

At first only Diya and Frieda lived together at LLA, but Line and Andi had built the 2 enclosures alongside of one another, with the hope that the 3 would like each other, and eventually be socialized. It is a terrible thing to have a lion living a solitary life in captivity.

The interest from Demira was instant, all she wanted was to get to Diya and Frieda. We were worried, however, that the two younger girls were, possibly, too much younger. Within the 3rd week with us, we watched as Frieda (most definitely) and Diya (to a slightly lesser degree), became more and more dominant and confident whilst the opposite was happening to Demira. She was hiding more, looking depressed and even becoming skittish. We decided the window of opportunity to socialize them (whilst all on approximately the same level of confidence), might be closing; and so, we quickly opened the gates between them. The meeting was a success and the three took to each other within the day.

Moving the lionesses to the travel crates to fly to SA
Moving the lionesses to the travel crates to fly to SA
Frida in her perspex display cage
Frida in her perspex display cage
Frida's display cage at the animal park
Frida's display cage at the animal park
Diya at the zoo
Diya at the zoo
The temporary holding facility after they were rescued, whilst waiting
The temporary holding facility after they were rescued, whilst waiting
Demira at the monastery
Demira at the monastery
Frida's eyes from lack of airflow and clean hay
Frida's eyes from lack of airflow and clean hay
The caretakers of the 3 lionesses whilst waiting to come to LLA
The caretakers of the 3 lionesses whilst waiting to come to LLA

It took a whole lot of time and money to build the enclosures in which to give these Ukrainian lions forever homes at LLA.

At times it felt as if we would never be able to do it. Thank you to all who helped... Please see our thank you letter below.

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Demira, Diya & Frieda enjoying life at LLA

Bloemfontein zoo Big Cats

The SPCA worked on the case of the Bloemfontein zoo for a long time, they tried, using official directives and inspections, to coerce improvements in the care of the animals in the zoo. Eventually they reached a point where they were forced, in order to save the animals, to confiscate and rehome all of the animals and permenantly close down the zoo.

Many animals were taken to various sanctuaries around South Africa. LLA was contacted by Panthera Africa and the SPCA and asked to take 2 pumas and 2 jaguars.

Working in allience with SPCA, DESTEA, Lion's Rock Big Cat Sanctuary, Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary and Dr Caldwell from old Chapel Clinic, LLA went in to the zoo to get the 4 big cats out.

We gave the Puma male the name Phoenix as he kept on waking up when sedated during the move at the zoo. His mother is Cleo.

The younger jaguar is Brazil and her mother, who has 3 legs, is Amazon.

See the photos below of them at LLA Sanctuary....


In order to give these cats species specific environments, we are building them encolosures designed specifically for them. To this end we would be beyond grateful for financial support.


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