Lion Lenci in FELIDA

Oct. 2018


Rescue Lenci


This lion is a true fighter: his story from 'Europe's worst zoo' to a happy life

In October, 2018 we went to a rescue mission to Albania to save Lenci and alongside the other wild animals form the Safari Park Zoo in Fier. Lenci was born in 2010 and most likely a brother of Bobby. He became most famous during the rescue mission due to a bad inflammation in his eye. Although we could save his eye, it is still smaller. Next to his eye, Lenci can also be recognized to his light-colored manes and striking lips.

International media called the Safari Park Zoo 'Europe's Worst Zoo' and 'Zoo from Hell'. It was a long process, but in the end: The Albanian Ministry of Environment and Tourism decided to confiscate all wild animals. FOUR PAWS supported the authorities and agreed to accommodate the lions and bears in its own sanctuaries.

Lenci before his rescue

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Lenci finally found peace and is loving life!

After years of suffering under terrible circumstances, the lions can now finally start a dignified life. On May 7th 2019 the lions began their journey from Tirana to Nijeberkoop in the Netherlands, where Big Cat Center FELIDA is located. The FOUR PAWS team traveled 52 hours and nearly 3,000 kilometers to bring the lions to their new home. Lenci, Bobby and Zhaku are doing well. They are curious but careful as they explore their new environment.

Farewell Zhaku

Only two months after he arrived at FELIDA, and for the first time felt sand and grass under his paws and the sun on his fur, we have to say goodbye to our beautiful Zhaku, much too early. His kidneys were damaged too badly. Kidney failure was already diagnosed in Albania and reconfirmed during the last medical check, but we still hoped that we could give Zhaku a good time with medication. This friendly and imposing lion, who lived for years in hell on earth, is no longer with us. Our hearts are broken for Zhaku, but we are certain he knew love and comfort in his last days.

Lenci's health condition

July 2019: One morning we arrived at his enclosure, when Lenci suddenly couldn't stand up anymore. He tried and he fought, but his hind legs did not cooperate, and he continued to fall. We immediately contacted wildlife veterinarian Marc Gölkel, who urgently came to FELIDA. Fortunately, we were able to visit the Drachten Dierenziekenhuis hospital in the short term for a CT scan, where Lenci was thoroughly examined. Long story short, Lenci appeared to have a hernia. Unfortunately, this investigation and also a large number of other diagnostic techniques did not find the cause of the sudden paralysis at the back. Neurological disorders in wild animals are very difficult to diagnose and treat, but we can now exclude at least a large number of diagnoses and await further results from specialists.

We did not know if Lenci will recover, but as long as there was a small chance, we would not give up. Lenci fights, and we fight with him. We support him with medication and observe him intensively, while we hope for the best. 

August 2019: We are glad that Lenci is doing well so far. We can see that he feels better. However, we must bear in mind that his back will always remain a weak spot - just like with people who have had a hernia. We, therefore, keep a close eye on him and provide him with all the intensive care he needs.

February 2020: We are so proud of Lenci! By his looks you can see that, not that long ago, he was seriously neglected: the severe eye inflammation he had back then, damaged the nerves in his face, causing his eye, nose and mouth to be a little crooked. As a result he has an asymmetrical face. But this does not make him any less beautiful to us! And on the other hand, in his behavior, it is hardly noticeable anymore that he had such a difficult past. Lenci is a good-humored and playful lion who loves all kinds of enrichment and happily roars along in the ‘lion choir’ consisting of Bobby, Ivan-Asen, Masoud and Terez. 

April 2020: We must not forget that Lenci has only been at FELIDA Big Cat Centre for less than a year, and so has only received the care he needs for a relatively short time after being locked up in a concrete cage for nine years without adequate nutrition and care.

A few days ago he suddenly fell ill again - he had troubles eating and was clearly in pain. The vets discovered that he had a cyst, that started in his jaw but had broken through his nasal cavity. Fortunately, the vets were able to completely remove the cyst and to rinse everything well.

Yet, this was an intense treatment for Lenci, and it took several days for him to recover. Lenci is doing better now. He is currently on antibiotics and we hope that, now that the inflammation has been removed, he will soon feel like his old self again.

The special care that Lenci, and our other animals need, is very expensive. Please help us and make a donation today!

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