A four-day rescue mission to save a lion and a wolf from war-torn Ukraine ended happily, with the two zoo animals “settling in well” in Romania, according to Tim Locks, the British war veteran who spearheaded the operation. Mr Locks, a 45-year-old Iraq veteran, was delivering aid in Ukraine when he learned about the animals’ plight from a conservationist at his hotel, according to the Daily Mail.
He set out on a mission to save the two animals, driving from Lviv to Zaporizhzhia Oblast, where the lion and wolf, along with two companions, were kept in a zoo.
The animals were transported to neighbouring Romania in the back of a minibus during the remarkable rescue operation, which Mr Locks documented on Facebook. Simba, the lion, and Akela, the wolf, were driven almost nonstop until they reached the Romanian border. The animals were then taken to a zoo in the northeastern Romanian city of Radauti on Sunday as the final leg of their journey.
On Wednesday, Mr Locks provided an update on the animals. “We’ve just heard back from the zoo in Romania and it’s amazing to hear that both Simba and Akela are settling in well. Both are eating and drinking plenty and enjoying some chill time after the long journey,” he penned.
He’d previously posted photos from the rescue mission to Facebook, describing how a crane was used to lift the lion and wolf into the minibus. “It took three hours to load both animals into the back of a Ford Transit minibus with the seats removed, using a crane and a JCB,” he said.
“We kept reminding each other as we drove that we had a lion and a wolf in the back of the van and looking back to see where they were, just over our shoulders,” Mr Locks told Metro News.
Guards at checkpoints were not amused when he declared a lion and a wolf as their cargo, he said. “One guard told us there was a war going on and it wasn’t the time to be joking,” Mr Locks said. “I dragged him to the side of the van, opened the door, and showed him this proper big lion, like Aslan out of Narnia.”
After dropping off the animals in Romania, the trio drove back to Ukraine to help with humanitarian missions as the country fights Russian forces.