Lions Rescued From Tiny Cages Feel Grass Beneath Their Paws for the First Time
After being confined to tiny, concrete-lined cages for years, these majestic lions were finally able to feel grass beneath their paws.
Footage shows the big cats tentatively leaving their shipping containers before stretching out in the sun and reflecting on their new home in South Africa.
The moving scenes came after five of the lions were rescued from a Romanian zoo, which shut down two years ago after failing to meet European Union standards for keeping wild animals. When it closed, they were left to live inside small cages beside a garbage pile with nowhere to roam.
Finally last week - along with a sixth lion who was saved from performing in shows - they took the days-long journey from Europe to the Four Paws LIONROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa.
As the video shows, the cats apprehensively left their shipping containers before greeting each other and taking their first steps on to the grass.
"We've done it," the organization wrote on Facebook. "After three days in your crates, the moment is finally here. You leave behind suffering, iron bars, dirt and concrete. This is how your life will be now until your last breath. This is how your life should have been since your very first breath. Welcome home! Your suffering is finally over!"
The animals will not be able to be released into the wild, but they will live out their days in these far larger enclosures in their native land.