Ukraine lions run free in Thornhill

Born into world of snow, steel and concrete, big cats get patch of Eastern Cape bush

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Four captive-bred lions from Ukraine were released into a new sanctuary near Thornhill on Thursday, lifting their paws high at each step through the unfamiliar wild grass and pausing nervously to listen to the strange calls of birds.

Their release was the culmination of an epic three-day journey from their steel and concrete homes in the East European country via internal flips then flights to Doha and Johannesburg, and finally a 15-hour truck journey to the Simbonga Game Farm, where the sanctuary has been established with two quarter-hectare enclosures covered in indigenous bush...

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