World's Loneliest Lion Returned to the Wild

Ruben is enjoying his new life.

Sep 15, 2023
World's Loneliest Lion Returned to the Wild | Ruben is enjoying his new life.

Lions live in family prides in the wild. They are not solo animals who can live alone. That’s why the world’s loneliest lion was rescued from captivity and is now living in a South African sanctuary.

Rueben’s journey from captivity
Rueben, a 15-year-old lion, originally lived in a private zoo in Armenia, according to SAPeople. But when the zoo closed five years ago, all the other animals were relocated. Sadly, no home was found for Reuben. He spent the last five years living alone in a concrete cell that didn’t even have enough have room for him to exercise.

“Lions are the most sociable of the big cats, living in family prides in the wild. So it must have been devastating for Ruben to have no contact or communication with other lions, Animals Defenders International (ADI) president Jan Creamer told SAPeople.

His August, 2023  journey to South Africa and his new life in the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary was organized by ADI. But it wasn’t clear sailing. The ADI couldn’t find a flight for him to make the 5,200-mile (8369-kilometer) trip from Armenia that had an airplane with large enough cargo doors for Rueben’s crate.

That’s when Qatar Airways Cargo WeQare environmental charity initiative stepped in and provided a flight and an air-conditioned truck for transport. WeQare pledges to return wildlife to their natural habitats free of charge.

But Reuben still has to make a personal journey. All those years of living in captivity left him weak, malnourished, and unable to walk. But he managed a few weak and wobbly steps upon arrival.

Reuben’s Rehab
When Reuben’s arrived in South Africa, he was examined by a veterinary clinic in Pretoria, reported People. Dr Peter Caldwell at Old Chapel Veterinary Clinic  prepared a special course of treatment to help the lion regain strength and mobility.

His habitat at the sanctuary was specifically designed with guard rails and ramps to help Reuben regain his mobility which could be a very long process.

“If he stumbles or falls he just picks himself up and keeps going. He is nothing short of heroic. Incredibly, in just a few days his movement is already improving. We know this will be a long road and will require ongoing veterinary treatment but the start of his new life could not have been better,” Creamer told SAPeople.

According to the wildlife sanctuary, Rueben’s progress to date has been remarkable. His movement has improved and he eagerly comes for treats. He enjoys spending as much time as possible outdoors and his night house door is left open.

Reuben is adjusting so well, that he is even getting his roar back as he regains confidence under the African sky. He will never be lonely again.

The Site with 1 Million Signatures for Cecil the Lion [Q&A]
Last Performing Circus Elephant in Chile is Moved to a Sanctuary
Thanks to Cher: Pakistan's Loneliest Elephant is Free

Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.