Ruben, a 15-year-old lion, spent his entire life confined in a cage at a private zoo in Armenia. After the zoo closed, every animal found a new home except Ruben. For over five years, he was trapped in his lonely cage with just concrete and bars. Although kind people fed him through the bars, he had no other contact or stimulation.
The heartbreaking reality was that Ruben had given up on roaring. Normally, lions communicate with each other through their powerful roars, which can be heard up to six miles away. But when Ruben called out, there was no reply, and he eventually stopped trying. This concerned the team at Animal Defenders International (ADI), who said, “It’s one of the saddest things when a lion feels so isolated he stops roaring.”
Thankfully, ADI came to Ruben’s rescue. Collaborating with Qatar Airways Cargo, they carefully planned his journey to a South African sanctuary. They designed a special crate for Ruben, taking measures like reflecting away the sun and infusing the inside with lavender and Feliway – a hormone to soothe cats.
During his journey, Ruben seemed to sense the positive change coming his way. His rescuers observed, “He traveled really well… it’s as if he knew something good was on the horizon.” Now, for the first time, Ruben has the freedom to roam and hopefully rediscover his roar.