Zen Recreations

  Posted Saturday, December 3, 2022 at 8:31pm by Zen Recreations

Forget Operation Dumbo Drop, this is Operation Lion Lift

Earlier this year in a shell-shocked zoo in the Black sea port of Odessa, a pride of lions from  the Bio Park Zoo in Odessa’s southern city in Ukraine were severly impacted by the Russian-Ukraine war and faced certain death or evacuation.

A robust military transport vehicle crept across a burning landscape bearing refugees of a different kind  through an active war zone  and reached Romania’s Targu Mures Zoo in the Transylvania region on May 24, 2022.

The mission was the brainchild of South African wildlife park owner Lionel de Lange. founder of ‘Warriors of Wildlife’, who joind forces with Brits Gemma Campling, director of Worldwide vets and Breaking the Chains founder and British Army veteran Tom.

The Targu Mures Zoo provided a temporary home for the animals till September 1-2022,  so that an emergency travel permit could be approved for the eleven lions to board an international rescue flight and “magicked” to another place beyond their understanding.

Seven adult lions, and two cubs were transferred to a Wild Animal Refuge, an extension of Wild Animal Sanctuary that is located near Springfield, on September 29. The other two lions were  sent to the Simbonga Game Reserve and Sanctuary in Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Animals often don’t survive transfers, it’s a huge shock to their system which manifests in real ways. Imagine how helpless, heart breaking or terrifying a flight might have been for seven full grown lions and two cubs. There are no treats and catnip that can fix that. The crew that collected and transported the lions was made up of British army veterans and a veterinarian. They sedated and checked the health of the lions, the largest of which weighed 230kg, and loaded them into vans, military trucks, and a converted ambulance. After a two-day journey from Romania to Qatar to Dallas. In Texas, Craig and his staff picked up the cats in an air-conditioned, 50-foot-long “truck-trailer combination” with special caging, and supported by ‘Warriors of Wildlife,’ seven adult lions and two cubs made the eight-hour journey from Texas to their forever home in Colorado.

The lions weren’t the only animals to be rescued out of harms way. PETA an animals rights NGO, got nearly 740 animals out of ukraine.

Meanwhile more animals rescues were underway to other destinations, while the Kyiv zoo is barely hanging on. The zoo keepers moved in to take care of the animals, working in shifts because the shelling was giving the elephant PTSD. The poor elephant had to be sedated almost 24/7 and a keeper had to be with him all day to try to keep him calm.

Kudos to the brave Australian team who made it all possible for the ‘pride of Ukraine to roam free’ and the amazing humans who battled this cause since February 2022.. When the Russian bombs started falling, caretakers were getting killed and having trouble getting to the Kyiv Zoo and the animals were starving. Reminiscent of the ‘Pride of Bagdad’ , if Russian missiles damaged the animal enclosures, civilians would be in serious danger from the loose predators.. How war destroys more than just the enemie’s side, deliberating on the nature of freedom and, to a certain extent, the responsibility of mankind towards the innocents caught in the crossfire.

Gauranteed to be the next movie in the making, you can now get an early bird peek into the great escape..

Homeless and alone many animals were abandoned and left to fend for themselves in dangerous conditions. Tom had made it his life’s mission to make the world a safer place for all animals. He and his team, all former British military who saw combat came to Ukraine when the bombing began..A documentarian and British Army Veteran, Tom sprang into action, forming the organization ‘Breaking the Chains’ International to bring the Ukrainian animals to safety.

There are many challenges ahead from complications due to altitude, hopefully in 30 days, they will have adjusted to Colorado’s altitude. At least that’s how long it takes humans to replace all their red blood cells with more efficient ones. Not forgetting a shift in sleep pattern relative to light and dark in the new place for a while.

There are hardly any facilities with enough capacity nearby in europe that could take the lions permanently. Providing adequate care for lions is pretty complicated, nor an easy task for those willing to pay for a wartime lion extraction.

TWAS in Keenesburg located in the northeastern part of Colorado became their forever home. The sanctuary has 550 Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and they’re all rescues - meaning the vast majority are being rescued from private collections where they are being mistreated or malnourished. The sanctuary has a “Mile Into The Wild Walkway” where you can visit and view the animals from above and definitely not a zoo. You walk on these walkways about 50 feet up over some of the habitats. It’s very special.

 If you ever get the chance, we recommend a visit! They have made many additions and improvements since it was started. TWAS takes great care of the animals, including spaying / neutering them.

Plan a day trip and walk along a 1.5mi elevated walkway where you’re likely to see Lions, Tigers, and Bears, pumas, foxes, wolves, and a variety of other animals they’ve rescued. But bring your binoculars or large camera lens as you’ll be observing them from a distance.

And if you’ve seen the Tiger King, know that something like 150 of the animals in the show ended up being freed from small cages and enclosures and now get to live in large paddocks without having to deal with human photo shoots, forced breeding, and other nonsense.

They only take in animals as rescues. This is not a zoo in any way. Pat Craig specifically designed TWAS for the purpose of rescue. The Wild Animal Sanctuary has two locations in Colorado, around 1,000 acres in Keansburg north of Denver, open to the public, and another 9,000 in the South East around Springfield that is closed to the public. They do wonderful work in getting animals that can never be released back in the wild, or a similar habitat that they deserve than the tiny cages they were confined in. They’re not made to perform, and have no real human interaction beyond what is necessary for feeding, health, and safety.

There’s a 1.5 mile raised boardwalk that overlooks huge paddocks on either side. They believe keeping the people raised keeps them out of sight and out of mind for the animals below and subsequently more relaxed, their yards are like 5+ acres per animal, except the ones like lions where the whole pride is together. They are big buried tubes (like concrete construction) for artificial dens and more. The bears have a big pond to play in.

There’s no effort to make it touristy, it’s all about the animals. One feels grateful for the amazing people in this world that actively combat the actions of those causing massive, needless suffering to others. Definitely bring or rent binoculars though, if you want to get a look at them.

We used to have lions, big ones. The American lion was a fierce predator. Standing four feet tall at the shoulder and eight feet long, the American lion is slightly bigger than today’s African lion. The average American lion was very strong and bulky, weighing about 500 pounds! We teamed up with climate change and killed ‘em all, though. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_lion?wprov=sfla1

Here’s how you can become a Founding Member of TWAS and even adopt a lion. If you’re near Denver and you haven’t been to the Sanctuary, do yourself a favor and visit this little paradise.. It gets in to your soul and you can see how much these people love the animals they’ve been entrusted to care for.

Fortunately, they didn’t share the same fate as the zoo that was bombed.

Makes one wonder do animals of the same species from different parts of the world have a dialect of their own or language of their own? Do you think the Colorado lions make fun of the Ukraine lions?

What do you think?:)