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Lions who used to be at zoo in Ukraine travel all the way to Colorado

<i>KCNC</i><br/>That life for the lions came to an end when Russia invaded Ukraine. They had to be evacuated to Romania to save them from the bombing. They stayed there while zookeepers tried to find them a new home. That's when Colorado's The Wild Animal Sanctuary got involved.
KCNC
KCNC
That life for the lions came to an end when Russia invaded Ukraine. They had to be evacuated to Romania to save them from the bombing. They stayed there while zookeepers tried to find them a new home. That's when Colorado's The Wild Animal Sanctuary got involved.

By Michael Abeyta

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    LAS ANIMAS COUNTY, Colorado (KCNC) — Last Thursday was a lazy day for seven lions at The Wild Animal Refuge in southeastern Colorado.

“They’re not acting 100% themselves right now,” said refuge spokesman Taylor Logan.

The animals had to be sedated to get some medical work done before a CBS News Colorado crew visited the Las Animas County facility this week. The Wild Animal Refuge isn’t open to the public. It’s a secondary space belonging to Weld County’s popular The Wild Animal Sanctuary.

The lions had quite the journey to get there.

“They flew from Romania to Dallas and got driven up,” said Logan.

Before all that, they were the pride of the zoo in Odessa, Ukraine.

“They’re essentially like house cats if you break it down. Just bigger claws, bigger teeth. Everything’s kind of escalated but they are very playful with each other. They like to wrestle just like your housecats will,” said Logan.

That life for the lions came to an end when Russia invaded Ukraine. They had to be evacuated to Romania to save them from the bombing. They stayed there while zookeepers tried to find them a new home. That’s when Colorado’s The Wild Animal Sanctuary got involved.

“When it seemed like it might be a longer-term thing and they were having trouble finding places, they gave us a call,” said Logan.

The lions went from a zoo habitat to living out their days in a brand new 80-acre enclosure where they are free to roam or just relax. It’s quite the upgrade and adjustment for them.

“This is all a brand-new process,” said Logan. “It was a long trip for them, so they were a little on edge, a little hungry. Just wanted to get out of their smaller cages and we got them in here but within a day or two just giving them some space and giving them some fresh water, they started to calm down.”

Despite everything, though, it’s a far better fate than anyone could have imagined for them when the bombing began.

“They’re very comfortable. Their personalities are out, and they all love to play,” said Logan.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary got 9 lions in total. Seven of them are down at the facility in Las Animas County but two are at their facility in Keenesburg.

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