Ruben gets his roar back! The lonely lion that kept silent for years in an abandoned zoo has a new life in store
For five years, Ruben the lion’s roars went unanswered like the last animal in an abandoned zoo.
So scarred was the 15-year-old from solitary confinement in a small cage that he fell silent. But now Ruben is learning to roar again with the help of the British animal charity that rescued him.
Jan Creamer of Animal Defenders International said the zoo in the Republic of Artsakh, a self-proclaimed republic within Azerbaijan, had been owned by an Armenian businessman.
After his death, all the other animals were rescued. “Unfortunately, there was no place for Rubén,” he said. Lions live in family groups and to roar is to speak to them.
‘He’s still trying to roar. Rubén has never felt the sun on his back or the wind on his face.
Now he will soon find a home in a sanctuary in South Africa where, his rescuers hope, he will roar again.
Sweet freedom: Ruben the lion is learning to roar again with the help of the UK animal charity that rescued him
So scarred was the 15-year-old from solitary confinement in a small cage that he fell silent. He was born in captivity at the zoo, he was left with health problems due to the years he spent with little food.
The rescue operation had to be meticulously planned and strategically timed to avoid escalating tensions in the region, which is patrolled by a Russian peacekeeping force.
The former businessman’s family wanted Rubén to have a better life and agreed to the move, which had to overcome multiple armed controls.
Ruben was sedated and under the care of a veterinarian during the nine-hour trip to a bear sanctuary near the Armenian capital Yerevan, run by the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Property (FPWC).
He will soon be taken to an ADI sanctuary in South Africa for lions and tigers.
Rubén, who was born in captivity at the zoo, has been left with health problems due to years spent with little food.
Rescue: Ruben the lion is moved to safety from his cramped cage in a secure container. He will soon find a home in a sanctuary in South Africa where, his rescuers hope, he will roar again.
But his coat, once matted from mud and shedding, is regaining its shine as he grows accustomed to a healthy diet and the comfort of a bed of hay, two heated rooms, and a 30-foot by 15-foot enclosure.
“This is more space than you’ve ever known, but the real transformation will be in Africa, where you’ll eventually have access to 2.5 acres of natural habitat,” said Ms. Creamer.
“Her lifelong restrictions have weakened her muscles and there appears to be neurological damage to her spine and head, with one leg wobbling and dragging. But we are strengthening him with exercise and food and he is responding well.
‘Ruben now gets involved and interacts with people, which is wonderful to see. Calls from him went unanswered for five years, but we are confident that he will roar again.”