The new residents of Lion Country will be out in their reserve every morning from 10:30am until early afternoon 🦁

Lion Rescue 2

A race against time to save four Ukrainian Lions!

Chapter 1
Romanian Rescue

Our story begins back in 2009 in Romania. Three prides of African Lions were living in filthy, tiny concrete pens, fed on a meagre diet of scraps and faced an uncertain future. The Zoos new director realised that they could not care for them and contacted Yorkshire Wildlife Park to see about re-homing the Lions.

The story of these Lions touched the hearts of people across Yorkshire and the surrounding areas and a public appeal raised a simply incredible £150,000 to build a new reserve to home these poor Animals.

Fast forward to February 2010, these magnificent animals to their new home in Yorkshire, 13 African Lions finally felt the real ground underneath their paws!
Nicknamed 'The Pride of Yorkshire', these incredible Lions settled in to their new home in Lion Country, firmly putting Yorkshire Wildlife Park on the map for animal conservation and rehabilitation around the world.

The directors of the park decided to support the creation of an independent charity to carry this work out on the international stage. Since then, the WildLife Foundation has gone from strength to strength, funding projects around the globe!

And that brings us onto...

Chapter 2
Ukrainian Rescue

Fast forward to February of 2022, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine begins...

As the ongoing war continued and people fled the war torn areas, fearing for their lives and their families, heavily pregnant Mum, Aysa was found abandoned in a private Zoo in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, right in the centre of the conflict.

Thankfully Mum was rescued and moved to a different facility within the warzone where she gave birth her three cubs Teddi, Emi and Santa. Malnourished and surrounded by fighting, explosions and fear, rescuers struggled to help this poor family of Lions living in extreme circumstances with an uncertain future. Thankfully, in 2023 the family were temporarily rehomed to Poznan zoo in Poland.

Deputy Section Head of Carnivores, Colin Northcott, flew out to Poland to assess the family and begin planning their hopeful transfer to Yorkshire.

At the beginning of the week long assessment, the Lions were fearful and distressed, a truly heartbreaking sight to see. As the week progressed, the Lions slowly began to trust him more and more.

Lion Country here at Yorkshire Wildlife Park was built as a welfare facility and now we're in a position where we can offer a home to these poor Lions and hope that we can make a difference to their lives.

This heartbreaking story needs a happy ending. This family deserve a new safe and permanent home. A home in Lion Country.

Chapter 3
Donetsk to Doncaster

Our story continues seven long months later in March of 2024. After what seems like forever since the Lion Rescue 2 story began, and a mountain of paperwork later, the last of the documents are signed and the red tape that was holding the story up is finally... BROKEN!

The start of an immense journey of over 2,000 miles, crossing the borders of six different countries begins for Aysa and her now 15-month-old cubs.

Colin, flew back out to Poland for a second time, providing a familiar face for the lions and to oversee their journey to Yorkshire.

The journey entered its final chapter in the early hours of Thursday 21st March 2024, as the four lions FINALLY arrived at Yorkshire Wildlife Park!

Read the press release here!

Chapter 4

During their time in Poland, the stress and fear of the whole situation caused Aysa to attack her own cubs. Since then, the three cubs were kept separate to mum for their own safety.

The first stage of their long and difficult rehabilitation in Yorkshire was the family re-introduction, letting them meet safely from behind a separating mesh between the two lion houses.

Stage two, a glimpse of Lion Country from the run tunnels connecting the house to the different areas within the reserve. All while keeping Mum and cubs separate in different tunnel systems.

Stage three, re-introduction! One of the most important parts of their rehabilitation. A family reunion on a truly paw-some scale, all under the watchful eyes of the animal team.
Mum and her three cubs are finally back together as the mesh is lifted and two lion houses become one!

Chapter 5
A Roaring Success!

18-months of work finally came to an end as several weeks of rehabilitation, the raceway was opened and 4 cautious lions took their first steps onto Yorkshire soil. For the 3 cubs, Emi, Santa and Teddi, this was the first time they'd felt anything but concrete under their pads.

An immense 2,000 mile journey from Donetsk to Doncaster was over.

This final chapter of Lion Country 2 comes to an end, but for these beautiful African Lions, their story continues in Yorkshire! 💚

Read the press release here!



We're incredibly touched by the worldwide support Lion Rescue 2 has gained!

If you'd like find out more or donate to the WildLife Foundation and help their global conservation work, please click the button below.

Donate here 🐾


Get the latest news & offers from Yorkshire Wildlife Park!

See our privacy policy here