Sunlight at last for lion Ruru

After a long journey from Poland, Ruru is finally getting some rest. Last week, the young lion arrived at AAP Spain and began his quarantine period. Where does Ruru come from and what has this beautiful animal already endured in his short life? The various messages we received from Ukraine tell a shocking tail, which for Ruru has a wonderfully happy ending.

For almost three years, lion Ruru lived in a dark, dirty barn in a small town just outside the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. His owner, who also kept peacocks and turtles in his private collection, had built an enclosure in the barn where Ruru spent his days alone. When the war broke out at the end of February, the owner ran off, leaving his animals behind. During the battle for Kyiv, a shell landed on the house. Flames engulfed the building and Ruru and the other animals seemed lost…

Ruru in the cage where he grew up alone

Futile efforts
Fortunately, the people of a nearby animal shelter managed to get most of the animals to safety, but the key to Ruru’s enclosure was missing. Miraculously, the young lion survived the fire. As shelling went on and on above their heads, shelter owner Asya Serpinska and her granddaughter walked over to the barn for weeks to feed him. All their efforts seemed in vain when Russian troops occupied the location and placed mines in the remains of the barn. Asya persuaded a soldier to disarm the mine by giving him cigarettes, saving Ruru’s life once more.

Spanish sun
It was only when Ukrainian troops recaptured the town that Ruru could finally be rescued from the filthy enclosure by URSA animal activists. The lion was taken to an undisclosed location in Poland for security reasons. Now that the paperwork is in order to take Ruru to AAP’s Spanish rescue centre the nightmare is over. Ruru can finally enjoy the sun, which has been withheld from him all his life.

Ruru just right after he arrived at AAP Spain

* Read here an interview with Asya Serpinska in The Washington Post.

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