Ruben: 'World's loneliest lion' who spent 5 yrs trapped in tiny cell after death of zoo owner returns to natural habitat

Ruben has already started to get his roar back, his morning calls getting steadily louder as he regains his confidence

Ruben: 'World's loneliest lion' who spent 5 yrs trapped in tiny cell after death of zoo owner returns to natural habitat
Ruben's temperament has completely transformed, and he is no longer afraid after adjusting in his natural habitat (ANIMAL DEFENDERS INTERNATIONAL)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Five years after being abandoned at a zoo in Armenia, a lion who had been left isolated in the shuttered private property has finally found freedom. He is now living his best life at a sanctuary in South Africa.

The 15-year-old Ruben was the only animal in a closed private zoo in Armenia, according to the animal rescue organization Animal Defenders International (ADI). The other animals from the shut-down zoo were given new homes, but no alternative arrangements could be made for Ruben.

As a result, Ruben was forced to spend five years in a concrete cell, where he suffered from starvation and lack of exercise.

'Lions are the most sociable among the big cats'

(ANIMAL DEFENDERS INTERNATIONAL)
15-year-old Ruben was the solitary animal at a closed private zoo in Armenia(ANIMAL DEFENDERS INTERNATIONAL)

ADI President Jan Creamer said in a statement, "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."

Fortunately, ADI and Qatar Airways Cargo helped "the world's loneliest lion" by organizing Ruben's 5,200-mile journey from Armenia to the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary in Free State, South Africa.

Ruben is adjusting to his new home in his natural environment 

(ANIMAL DEFENDERS INTERNATIONAL)
Ruben is adjusting to his new home in his natural environment and recovering (ANIMAL DEFENDERS INTERNATIONAL)

Ruben is adjusting to his new home in his natural environment and recovering from his lonely years at the zoo after a successful flight to the sanctuary in August. According to ADI, 32 rescued lions and tigers reside in the 455-acre refuge.

Creamer said, "Ruben was really in trouble until Qatar Airways Cargo stepped up." Creamer added, "ADI had been funding his care in Armenia since December, and when we could find no flights for him, we feared he could be stuck there."

Ruben underwent a physical examination at a Pretoria veterinary clinic

(ANIMAL DEFENDERS INTERNATIONAL)
Ruben underwent a physical examination at a Pretoria veterinary clinic(ANIMAL DEFENDERS INTERNATIONAL)

According to ADI, Ruben underwent a physical examination at a Pretoria veterinary clinic, and his home at the sanctuary was constructed with ramps and guard rails to enable the lion stay active while he recovers his mobility, as reported by People.

ADI shared in its news release, "Ruben has already started to get his roar back, his morning calls getting steadily louder as he regains his confidence."

Ruben's temperament has completely transformed

Ruben's temperament has completely transformed, and he is no longer afraid, said Creamer, who also added that, "seeing him walk on grass for the first time, hearing the voices of his own kind, with the African sun on his back, brought us all to tears."

Creamer added, "His determination to walk is inspiring. 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," concluded Creamer.