Meet Simba, the lion from Russia who is getting used to his new home here in Tanzania.
Before he was discovered by volunteers in March 2020, Simba had been kept in a basement, starved, had fractured bones, covered in sores and maggots and had his paws broken just to prevent him from escaping.
Dr. Elisabeth Stegmaier, founder of Kilimanjaro Animal CREW wildlife rehabilitation center explained; "When he came out for the first time, you could see he was like; 'My goodness,' you know, feeling like interrogated, I suppose, because he never had this big and wide spaces in front of him. And yeah, I mean, you need to start somewhere, you know? I mean, he could not be wild as it is because he does have a problem. He could not survive in the wild. So, what we can do is to do something that resembles for him being as wild as possible."
After his arrival at the shelter, he needed 17 injections every day and also had to undergo spine and stomach surgery.
A private aircraft was especially re-equipped to enable Simba and other animals travel.
Since the start of negotiations with Tanzania, Simba grew from 50 to 124 kilograms but had to stay on a diet for a month and a half before the flight.
"Tanzania was chosen because, first, there is the biggest lion population here, which means great expertise of feline veterinarians. Second, there are very good conditions here in terms of climate, we have equatorial temperature here, it is always warm. And, of course, which is the main factor, that there is no hunting as such in Tanzania. Alexander Andreychuk, representative of Kilimanjaro Animal CREW wildlife rehabilitation center added.
The trip was organized by the founder of So. Travel company and the Friends of My Heart community of animal rights activists, Yulia Agaeva.
"So much has been done (to make this happen), so much effort has been put into it, including my three-month inspection to Tanzania, the main idea of which was to find true friends and a second home (for Simba)," she says.
"Now, my second home is Tanzania too, we became very close.
In Tanzania, Simba and Eva will live in the Kilimanjaro Animal CREW wildlife rehabilitation center, which has built spacious enclosures for the cats at a distance from the rest of the animals.
Tanzania’s ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism is expected to take full responsibility of Simba and a leopard called Eva.