The continued Russian invasion of Ukraine has startled the globe in recent weeks, and our hearts continue to go out to the victims of the conflict.
But we’ve also been moved by the Ukrainian people’s endless stories of bravery and perseverance, including many examples of people sacrificing everything to protect animals in the country.
Recently, one British guy went above and above in his mission to safeguard Ukraine’s animals, driving a lion and wolf out of the country in a minibus.
According to Metro, Tim Locks, an Iraq war veteran, went on a mission to provide help to Ukraine while the country was at war. But his journey took an unexpected turn when he received an unusual request: a conservationist he met at a hotel begged for his assistance in relocating a wolf and lion from Ukraine.
Even under the best of circumstances, transporting animals like that is a difficult operation, and transporting them across the border in the midst of Russian bombing was a daunting task. Tim, on the other hand, knew he was the only guy for the job.
“Strangely, no one else seemed to want to do this,” he posted on Facebook. “That’s what we do.”
Tim and his pals headed to Zaporizhzhia Oblast in southeast Ukraine after estimating that the animals’ cages would fit in their minibus.
Akeela, the wold, was anesthetized and placed in a container. Simba, the lion, was already caged. The creatures were crane-lifted into Tim’s van before being moved to a zoo in Romania.
“It took three hours since the crane driver and digger driver didn’t speak English, and we don’t speak Ukrainian, so there was an interpreter who translated everything,” Tim explained to Metro.
The rescue squad began their journey to the border, but it was evident that numerous obstacles awaited them.
“Once we’d loaded everything into the rear of the bus, there was no more room,” Tim explained. “As we left the city, we were escorted by police, the air raid sirens were sounding, and we just had 35 minutes before the curfew began.”
They drove hundreds of miles across the war-torn country, dodging bombs. They were forced to halt at Ukrainian checkpoints, and Tim claims that when officials asked him to register their cargo, he would respond, “a lion and a wolf,” much to their surprise.
“One guard informed us there was a war going on and it was not the time to be joking,” Tim told Metro. “I dragged him to the side of the van, opened the door, and showed him this proper enormous lion, like Aslan out of Narnia.”
After much difficulty, the group was able to cross the border into Romania and arrive at their objective, a zoo in Radauti.
A crew from Romania assisted the party in transporting the animals to their new home by lifting their cages using a forklift.
Despite the long journey, Tim claims the animals have settled in nicely: “Simba and Akela are settling in well,” he said on Facebook. “They’re both eating and drinking a lot and relaxing after the long drive.”
The rescuers slept for a few hours at the zoo, enjoying some celebration “tea and cookies.” But then it went back to Ukraine to continue their humanitarian work.
“We are returning to Ukraine, but red tape is preventing us from bringing animals and help across the border.” Tim told Metro.
Nonetheless, bringing a lion and a wolf out of Ukraine shows that they can accomplish the impossible. “No one imagined we’d be able to pull it off,” he remarked.
Thank you to Tim Locks, his companions, and everyone who assisted in rescuing this lion and wolf!