On Monday, animal rescue groups Breaking the Chains and Warriors of Wildlife journeyed to the war-torn Black Sea port of Odessa to rescue the animals from an active war zone.
Nine lions have been saved from a Ukrainian zoo by British Army veterans who bravely embarked upon a daring warzone mission. On Monday, animal rescue groups Breaking the Chains and Warriors of Wildlife journeyed to the war-torn Black Sea port of Odessa to rescue the animals from an active war zone.
According to Daily Mail, nine lions were nearing starvation at their home in the Biopark, Odessa, as the meat supply had become dangerously low due to the war. Moreover, if Russian missiles hit the animal enclosures and damaged them, civilians could have been in grave danger from the predators that would have been set free.
Thankfully the group arrived in time to prevent the tragedies from happening. They reportedly traveled thousands of miles across three borders for over 72 hours to carry out the mission, something they claim to be the biggest big-cat rescue ever from an active war-torn area.
Finally on Wednesday, two adult male lions, five females, and a male and female cub were all taken out safely and keep in their temporary new home in Targu Mures, Romania. This was all possible because of South African animal advocate Lionel de Lange, who also founded Warriors of Wildlife. The rescue mission was Lange's brainchild and with the help of Brits Gemma Campling, director of Worldwide Vets, and Breaking the Chains founder and British Army veteran Tom, he made it happen.
South African Army veteran Lionel de Lange said that their aim was to fly the lions to the Simbonga Game Reserve in South Africa or a wildlife sanctuary in the US. Tom then led a team of former British Army soldiers and members from the USA and Canada into the area.
"It was an animal that saved my life. I understand the true beauty and value of animals and I wanted to make sure I could save their lives which is why we are in Ukraine. My ground team are all veterans so these are the guys who go into active conflict areas, and when I say active areas these are places under Russian offensive with troops on the ground. These are the conflict areas we operate in," said Tom who was medically discharged with PTSD.
"We have volunteers as well who are people who have come out here to look out for the animals. We had two volunteers with us on this mission but predominately the ground team are all veterans," he added. As soon as Lange informed him about the plight of the lions, he knew he had to do something for them.
"It required a lot of equipment and a lot of manpower, so straight away when I got the call, I said, 'sure thing, no dramas, just tell me when. Odesa is an active warzone, they are getting missile strikes and ships can bombard from the sea so they are under constant threat. We go into the conflict areas and on multiple occasions, we've been between 600 to 800 meters from the Russian front line," he shared.
Representative cover image source: Getty | Photo by dennisvdw