Page last updated at 14:16 GMT, Sunday, 30 August 2009 15:16 UK

Fundraising appeal to save lions

Lions
The wildlife park wants to create a 10-acre reserve for the lions

A wildlife park near Doncaster has launched a fundraising campaign to bring 14 lions from a Romanian zoo.

Yorkshire Wildlife Park says it needs to raise £150,000 to transfer the lions from the country's Oradea Zoo.

Park director John Minion said the animals were kept in small cages and some faced being put down if a new home for them could not be found.

Mr Minion said the zoo was "fully supportive" of plans to move the lions, which will include 18-month-old cubs.

The wildlife park first heard of the lions' plight when it was contacted by the specialist re-homing service at Heathrow Airport.

Staff got in touch with a Romanian animal rescue charity and in July Mr Minion visited the zoo, at the invitation of its director.

"The staff at Oradea really love their animals and desperately want the best for them
John Minion, park director

He said he was "shocked and moved" by what he saw, and pledged to help the animals.

"The lions were in awful conditions," he said.

"I saw five in a 3m by 4m pen. It was incredibly distressing. The zoo keepers care for the animals, but they don't have any money or the proper resources, and can't put tyres up for them to play with.

"Quite a few of the lions have developmental problems and arthritic conditions.

"The options are to re-home them, or the possibility of euthanasia.

"The staff at Oradea really love their animals and desperately want the best for them - it would be terrible if they had to be put down."

Money raised will go towards building a lion house and creating a 10-acre reserve for the animals.

It is hoped the lions can be brought to the wildlife park before winter, when heavy snowfalls in Romania make travelling difficult.

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Fund-raising appeal to save lions



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