Simba, a lion named Akyla and a wolf called Akyla were evacuated from a Ukrainian zoo and taken to safety in Romania. The operation was described by animal rights groups as a four-day task “full of dangers”, further complicated by bureaucratic border entry.

Gray wolf and adult male lion arrived in Radauti on Monday after a dangerous journey in Ukraine without tranquilizers.

The animals are now at a safe distance and have spent four days in cages back in a van. They were now recovering from the trip in their new enclosure Wednesday. They sat in the shade, feeling stronger.

Sebastian Taralunga, of Animals International, one among many that were involved in the planning of the animals’ removal, stated: “If there was anything this war brought on it is incredible cooperation between organisations.”

“Everybody agreed that extreme situations require extreme measures, and we decided to take whatever steps were necessary to save those animals from war.”

Thanks to the cooperation of many animal rights groups as well as private citizens, the evacuation of large animals was possible. Two men from the U.K. volunteered to go into Ukraine to rescue and transport them to safety.

Roxana Ciornei (Patrocle’s House president) stated that she couldn’t find any driver from Romania who could help. They arrived safely.

The long journey from Ukraine was not an easy one.

The authorities refused permission to the van carrying animals through Romania’s Siret border. The drivers were forced to traverse twice the Carpathian Mountains, which span across both countries’ common border. This added nearly 1,000 km (620 miles) to their journey.

Gabriel Paun, Animals International’s EU director, stated that “it was a central-level determination that Romania and Ukraine will only possess a single border crossing to large animals.”

He said, “It was an organization of people acting in good will to do all they could to save those animals.”

It’s hard to get people out from Ukraine, especially if they live in dangerous areas. But to rescue a lion or wolf was impossible. I was fifty-fifty about whether these animals and those people would make the journey alive.

Paun stated that they couldn’t find a veterinarian to assist with the evacuation mission and that there were no tranquilizers available. This meant that the animals were fully awake and aware throughout their journey to safety.

Taralunga, Animals International said that it is possible to imagine driving with a lion or wolf in your van. The cages are unstable and could have opened at any time.

Simba, the lion, was said to have sustained an injury in transport when he landed on the cage. However, veterinarians assured him that it was not serious and would heal by itself.

They will spend some time in quarantine at the new enclosure. Children and other visitors will be able to see them at zoo. After that, they will be moved to sanctuaries.

Ciornei stated, “My NGO runs a shelter for 300 dogs, and we have cows and horses. But I never thought that I would come to save a lion or a wolf.” “We brought together many people, and everyone did something together… and we succeeded to accomplish this.”

“There is a part in the war in Ukraine that will ensure these animals live a better existence.”