Rescuing animals during disasters – EuropeSave human lives by saving animals before, during and after disasters
An African leopard named Brave has successfully reached a rescue centre in Spain after travelling over 3,600 kilometres in three days through five countries out of war-torn Ukraine.
The male big cat who is four years old, was found after his owner – a private exotic pet collector evacuated Eastern Ukraine, leaving Brave behind without food or water. Wild Animal Rescue in Kyiv went to rescue him, finding him emaciated and traumatised from nearby explosions.
Brave’s evacuation was made possible through a collaboration between IFAW, Wild Animal Rescue, and AAP (Animal Advocacy & Protection) in Spain. This rescue is just one in a wider mission led by IFAW and Wild Animal Rescue to rescue over a dozen big cats including lions, tigers and a wolf, which will be moved to safer locations outside of Ukraine.
“An African leopard should never have been in Ukraine, let alone a warzone. Brave has already suffered so much – being caged, neglected, and starved. At long last though, after this latest arduous journey, he will finally find the peace he deserves,” says Natalia Gozak, IFAW wildlife rescue field officer in Ukraine. “Because he was born in captivity, sadly we cannot release him into the wild. But at the specialized rescue centre in Spain, he will be safe and secure.”
The leopard was rescued in December 2022, and taken to Wild Animal Rescue, a rescue centre operated by Natalia Popova near Kyiv. Although she studied economics, Natalia has been rescuing and providing temporary care for wild animals in Ukraine since 1999.
“These rescue missions can be very dangerous. Everyone is afraid – both people and animals, but I felt someone had to do something for the abandoned animals like Brave, so I went,” Natalia Popova, of Wild Animal Rescue said. “When I know they are destined for a better life, it makes it worth it. I just want these animals to be safe and happy.”
IFAW has supported Wild Animal Rescue in caring for Brave and helping organise transportation to the border of Ukraine with Poland. From there, AAP’s team travelled with Brave to their rescue centre in Spain, where he will remain until they have found him a forever home.
It is believed that there are many, many more big cats, mostly lions, kept in private homes in Ukraine. IFAW and Wild Animal Rescue together have rescued over 170 wild animals, including the evacuations of 12 big cats from Ukraine to Poland and elsewhere.
For more information, photo/video material or to arrange interviews with IFAW or Wild Animal Rescue, please contact:
+31 6 3900 8295
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