Cats saved from hell in Romanian zoo

Schalk Mouton

A FAMILY of four lions, accompanied by two tigers, have emigrated to restful retirement in South Africa after living a tough life in poor conditions in a Romanian zoo.

The two full-grown lions with their two cubs and two full-grown tigers arrived in South Africa yesterday.

The cubs were born in August and should have been standing a metre high by now. However, because of the poor conditions they were kept in at the Onesti zoo in north-east Romania, they only reach up to between 30 and 40cm. The tigers arrived highly under-fed.

“I believe the zoo owners stopped feeding them when they heard they were going to be removed,” said Ioana Dungler, project director of Four Paws International, which had rescued the animals to bring them to the Lion Rock Big Cat Sanctuary in Bethlehem, in the southern Free State.

Johannesburg Zoo head veterinarian Katja Koeppel said throughout their lives the cats had never even seen grass and were kept in small concrete cages with no way to enrich themselves.

The cats are among a large quantity of animals expected to be rescued from 26 zoos in Romania.

When Romania became part of the European Union its zoos, which were never required to maintain high standards, fell under European zoo laws, which state that if a zoo fails to meet its minimum requirements for animals the zoo must close.

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