Six lions evacuated from war-torn Ukraine, including one rescued from a nightclub, have arrived at two animal shelters in Spain and Belgium, the shelters said on Thursday.
The lions, along with six tigers, two wild cats and a wild dog, arrived last week at a zoo in Poland by truck from a shelter near Kiev after a two-day odyssey along the front lines of battle.
Four of the lions and the wild dog were cared for on Wednesday by a rescue center in Alicante, eastern Spain, run by Dutch animal welfare association AAP, the group said in a statement.
The lions were living in a refuge near Kiev after being rescued from “catastrophic” circumstances, with one called Gyz being kept in a “small cage in a mall”.
Another lion called Flori was kept as a pet in a small apartment where he was fed cat food while another named Nila was rescued from a nightclub where he was kept for “entertainment customers”.
“It will be a challenge to improve their fragile health, step by step, through proper nutrition, exercise and rest,” the statement added.
Two other lions named Tsar and Jamil were taken in by the Natuurhulpcentrum shelter in Belgium’s eastern Limburg province on Wednesday, the group said on Facebook.
The animals will remain in quarantine for three months, he added.
The remaining animals – the six tigers and the two wildcats – have so far remained at Poznan Zoo in western Poland.
The truck which traveled almost 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) to the Polish border came face to face with Russian tanks at one point and had to avoid the area of Zhytomyr, which the invading forces shelled, a zoo spokesman said.
At the border, the animals were transferred to a Polish truck while the Ukrainian driver returned home to his children.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)