Two lions from a wildlife sanctuary in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv will be accommodated in Belgium's Nature Conservation Centre in the Limburg province, announced Agriculture Minister David Clarinval.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine affects not only civilians but also many animals. The 'Wild Animal Rescue', a reception centre for wild animals in Kyiv, had to transport a large number of animals to the border with Poland as a precaution.
The Nature Aid Centre in Oudsbergen wanted to take in lions, named Tsar and Jamil. On Thursday, the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) gave the official green light for an import permit, Clarinval's cabinet told the Belga News Agency.
"Great news! We just received the message that everyone, human and animal (six lions, two tigers, caracals,...), arrived safely in Poland," the Nature Aid Centre announced on its Facebook page. "They are now heading for the Poznan Zoo, where they will be able to regain their strength for a few days after this exceptionally tough journey."
Upon arrival in Belgium, the animals must spend three months in quarantine monitored by the FASFC local control unit, and a veterinarian will also check them and take a blood sample to test for rabies. Before transport, the lions will have to be vaccinated against rabies, and they will also have to undergo veterinary import control at the EU border.
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In the meantime, the Nature Aid Organisation announced that its transport truck is ready to drive to Poland to pick up Tsar and Jamil "as soon as the animals are strong enough. This will probably be next week."
The other animals will go to other European sanctuaries.
"The events in Ukraine are dramatic and a source of suffering for many Ukrainians, including animals. Our solidarity with Ukraine is expressed in various ways," said Clarinval.