Lioness and her three cubs have been reunited

11th April 2024

A mum and her three cubs have finally been reunited at award winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park after escaping bombs in Ukraine.

Mum Aysa, 4, spent nine months separated from her 18 month old cubs Emi, Santa and Teddi in a holding facility in Poland - confined without even being able to see the sky.

They all arrived from their 2000 mile journey across Europe last month from Poznan Zoo and rangers started the painstaking task of safely reuniting the family.

Upon arrival at their new home, the cubs and their mum remained separated through a mesh parting, but the family has now finally come together once again.

‘We are very pleased with how quickly the lions have settled in- we expected a lot of noise and apprehension, but none of that has happened and things have gone much quicker than anticipated,’ says Colin Northcott, Deputy Head of Carnivores at Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Auckley, near Doncaster.

‘I am so proud of these lions. They are finally together and I’m like a proud dad.’

‘On my first visit to their temporary accommodation in Poland, the lions were very timid and scared of every bit of noise. They could not see their surroundings at all.’

‘We expected them to be incredibly nervous here but they have settled down so fast and I am very pleased.’

‘Teddi was first to be introduced to his new home, and he was out of his crate within seconds. Emi was next, taking a little bit longer. Santa was third, and although she took much longer to get used to her surroundings, she did eventually settle in.’

‘Mum Aysa was the last to leave her crate- she was very relaxed and came out straight away. It is almost like she has been here her whole life.’

3 scared cubs during Colin's first visit

‘As soon as Aysa was in her den she immediately started exploring, looking up at the sky and watching the birds go by. These new surroundings are a world away from Poland: there is a lot more noise and commotion, but importantly the lions can see everything that is going on around them and where the noise is coming from. This doesn’t seem to scare them as much.’

‘After close monitoring, we decided to introduce the cubs firstly through a mesh parting, and then reunited the family together in one den.’

‘Emi was the first to reunite with her mother, as she was the one who cuddled up to her mum the most when they were still separated. We all thought she would cause the least issue because she is so submissive. But when Emi when in, mum’s first reaction was to kind of shout at her and put her in her place. But after a few minutes they settled in really nicely.’

The reunion caught on CCTV

‘Santa, the larger female lion, was then introduced, and there was again some tension because the situation was new for all of them, but that also soon settled down. Teddi was last to join the family, and as the good boy that he is, he settled in extremely way.’

‘We are very pleased to say that all 4 lions are now together as one family unit living very happily. Within the first hour we had all four lions together.’

‘It’s astonishing to see them go from those scared, cowering lions in Poland to head rubbing each other throughout the day. It does look like a long-lost family get-together. They are one happy family.’

‘They have been rolling on each other giving each other head rubs and making noises, lying down next to each other.’

‘The four lions now have access to all the pens in the lion house and the race- a mesh tunnel which runs alongside the large seven-acre enclosure they will eventually live in.’

All 4 together napping

‘If mum gets up and moves from one den to the next they quite often get up and follow her.’

‘They are acting like a proper family unit. They are doing mutual grooming, she is licking them clean and they are doing it to each other. That’s the ultimate.’

‘Mum was happy to tolerate them at first but didn’t interact much. In the morning however, we looked in the pen and all four were in the same bed together, under one of the platforms. It was as if mum was guarding her cubs.’

‘They now play around mum. If she’s lying on the floor they step over her and roll onto her and head rub. It is so nice to see.

‘The intention of Lion Country was always to rescue lions. In 2010 we rescued 13 lions from poor conditions in Romania, and we are so happy to have Aysa’s family join us 14 years on from our first rescue mission. The surviving original rescue lions Crystal and Carla are very intrigued as to who their new neighbours are. As with all new arrivals, the lions will take a while to settle and will be closely monitored, but we cannot wait for everyone to meet them- they will be a massive hit with the public."

Aysa and her 3 cubs in the raceway

Yorkshire Wildlife Park works closely with the Wildlife Foundation, which is based at the park, to rescue and protect some of the world’s rarest and most endangered species of animal.

To donate to the WildLife Foundation, please click here.

The 175-acre park offers visitors a unique walk-through experience bringing them almost face to face with some of the world’s most beautiful and at-risk species, including Black Rhinos, Tigers and the UK’s largest collection of Polar Bears.



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