World's Loneliest Lion Rescued and Rehomed After 5 Years Of Isolation

Journeying from his concrete cage to the African grasslands, Ruben the lion inspires all as he begins his new life — with freedom, joy, and family!

Lions are the most sociable of all the big cats. They live in family prides and depend on each other for care and survival.

So, one can only imagine 15-year-old Ruben’s devastation when he was abandoned by his private zoo in Armenia in a concrete cell with no other animals for company.

He was the World’s Loneliest Lion for 5 long, heartbreaking years.


Thankfully, Ruben’s story has brought nothing but good news as of late! With the help of Animals Defenders International (ADI) and Qatar Airways Cargo, he has been relocated to his natural habitat in South Africa, where he is being rehabilitated at the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary.

A male lion, Ruben, walking out of a travel crate with a sign that says “Animal Defenders International” in a grassy area.

After making this long 5,200-mile journey, Ruben can finally feel the African sun on his back, and hear the roars of fellow lions. 

Upon reaching the sanctuary, Ruben left everyone with the memory of his first steps out of the travel crate etched on their minds. Reportedly, he walked out of his travel crate and chased a line of sausages to a huge catnip toy — his first ever — and started playing with it!

A male lion, Ruben, walking towards his red catnip toythat says “Everlast” and “Champions Choice” in a grassy enclosure.

Yet, his recovery and re-establishment will not be easy. 

Years of severe confinement, lack of exercise and malnutrition have left the lion with wobbly legs. He has difficulty walking and roaring. 

However, he has begun receiving a treatment course, and an exclusive habitat with ramps, guard rails, and more has been designed to help him adjust to his new environment. 

A veterinarian examining a sedated lion in a room with a metal gate and Animal Defenders International logo.

“His whole demeanour has transformed, his face is relaxed and no longer fearful. His determination to walk is inspiring,” said Creamer. “If he stumbles or falls he just picks himself up and keeps going. He is nothing short of heroic.”

He has finally found his way home after years of desolation — ‘World’s Loneliest Lion’ no more!

Ruben’s story is a reflection of the power of compassion and collaboration, and how we can help rewrite the narratives of so many such animals in need!

Watch the video of his arrival in South Africa here.

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