This week Dr Campling lead the veterinary procedure for a daring rescue mission unlike any that has been known before. The largest evacuation of carnivores form an active war zone. British army veterans from Breaking The Chains provided security and logistical support and the animals were evacuated for Warriors of Wildlife, run by Lionel de Lange.
The nine lions were facing starvation at their home in the Biopark, Odesa, where supplies of meat were running dangerously low because of the war. If Russian missiles damaged the animal enclosures, civilians would be in serious danger from the loose predators. The group travelled thousands of miles across three borders over 72 hours to carry out the rescue.
The two adult male lions, five females and a male and female cub were all safely taken to their temporary new home in Targu Mures, Romania, on Wednesday. The eventual aim is to fly all the lions to a new life in America to live out their days in a wildlife sanctuary.
We hope we can go back in under the Russian noses again and rescue more animals together in the future. There is a large number of captive carnivores at risk due to the war. Money is tight, missiles are raining down and their lives are at risk. People are staying behind to care for them and that too puts human life in danger.
The lions were very well behaved. They didn’t know what was happening and were of cautions of us as a large team entering their territory and darting them one at a time. It all went very smoothly, and they were loaded one by one into individual cases. The transport to Romania took almost a whold day, but I managed to reduce their stress as much as possible with light sedation and tranquilisers.
'It's great for me to get any animal out of a bad situation but I suppose for me as someone who has lived in Ukraine it was extra special…The lions future was super bleak staying in Odesa because the writing is on the wall and it looks like there's not going to be an end to the war anytime soon”