Ruben gets his roar back! Lonely lion that remained silent for years in an abandoned zoo has a whole new life in store
For five years, Ruben the lion’s roar went unanswered like the last animal in an abandoned zoo.
The 15-year-old was so scarred by solitary confinement in a small cage that he kept silent. But now Ruben is learning how to roar again with the help of the British animal organization that rescued him.
Animal Defenders International’s Jan Creamer said the zoo in the Republic of Artsakh – a self-proclaimed republic in Azerbaijan – was owned by an Armenian businessman.
After his death, all other animals were saved. “Unfortunately there was no room for Ruben,” she said. ‘Lions live in family groups and to roar is to chat.
“He’s still trying to roar. Ruben has never felt the sun on his back or the wind on his face.’
Now he will soon find a home in a shelter in South Africa where, his rescuers hope, he will roar again.
Sweet freedom: Ruben the lion learns to roar again with the help of the British animal organization that rescued him
The 15-year-old was so scarred by solitary confinement in a small cage that he kept silent. He was born in captivity at the zoo and has health problems from his years spent alone with little food
The rescue operation had to be carefully planned and strategically timed to avoid inflaming tensions in the region, which is guarded by a Russian peacekeeping force.
Eager for Ruben to have a better life, the former businessman’s family agreed to the move, which involved negotiating multiple armed checkpoints.
Ruben was sedated and placed in the care of a vet for the nine-hour journey to safety at a bear sanctuary near Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, run by the Foundation for Preservation for Wildlife & Cultural Assets (FPWC).
He will soon be taken to an ADI lion and tiger sanctuary in South Africa.
Born in captivity at the zoo, Ruben struggles with health problems from his years spent alone with little to eat.
Rescue: Ruben the lion is brought to safety from his cramped cage in a secure container. He will soon find a home in a shelter in South Africa, where his rescuers hope he will roar again
But his coat, once matted by mud and moult, is regaining its shine as he gets used to a healthy diet and the comforts of a hay bed, two heated rooms and a 30-by-14-foot fence.
“This is more space than he’s ever known, but the real transformation will take place in Africa where he will eventually have access to 2.5 hectares of natural habitat,” said Ms Creamer.
His lifelong limitations have weakened his muscles and there appears to be neurological damage to his spine and head and one leg is wobbly and dragging. But we build him up with exercise and food and he responds well.
“Ruben is engaged and interacting with people now, which is great to see. His calls went unanswered for five years, but we’re confident he’ll roar again.”