In September 2017, three lions were born in the illegal Razgrad Zoo in Bulgaria. The animals were the fruit of incest, much like their parents. One of them died just a while after it first saw the glimmer of this world. The owner of the zoo, Razgrad Municipality, failed to take any action to help the cubs. This would’ve just added numbers to the statistics of the dead animals in the facility if it wasn’t for the activists alongside The Wild Animals Foundation who managed to save the lions.

The hope for freedom

The animals were safely escorted to a veterinary clinic in Sofia, where their fight for life was just beginning.

One of the lions, Masud, had severe trauma in the neck area and refused to eat because of it. After an MRI and months of trembling over the helpless cub, the vets managed to save it.

The Four Paws organization joined the fight just shortly afterward, issuing passports to the little Masud and Therese. They also managed to organize the transportation of the lions to the rescue center for big cats in the Netherlands – Felida. From there it was planned for the cubs to join their natural habitat in Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa.

In the meantime, three more lions were moved from Razgrad to Sofia due to the lack of specialists, facilities, conditions, and even legal rights of the zoo where they were held in captivity behind bars.

The empire strikes back

Everything was going step by step in the right direction. Thousands of people were watching their story with hearts full of compassion and understanding. Until one day the mayor of Razgrad stated that the lions are to be given to the Pazardzhik zoo. Yet another facility that neither has the specialists, nor the conditions to take care of the animals.

This practically doomed the fragile life of the cubs to certain death. Reports by Independent Online and Bulgaria Insight provided a lot of the information used in this article.

With unclear arguments, the Razgrad Municipal Council voted to support the report of the Razgrad mayor, who "donated" Masud and Therese to the municipality of Pazardzhik.

These barbaric actions were immediately publically endorsed by a significant percentage of the media, owned by the notorious Bulgarian oligarch – Delyan Peevski – a man who many journalists in the EU claim to be associated directly with the organized crime in the region. After the public’s fervent response, the prime minister of Bulgaria – Boyko Borisov, promised that the lions would be transferred to Lionsrock, where they would smell freedom amidst their own.

Today, just a few weeks after Bulgaria has taken its presidency of the Council of the European Union, the lions’ trip to their safe heaven was canceled without any public explanation. That’s just an example of how wildlife is treated in the country after it became known that the government is planning to allow construction in up to 48 percent of Pirin National Park, a UNESCO Wolrd Heritage site, despite public concerns.

Activists, veterinarians, The Wild Animals Foundation, and the Four Paws organization say that the fight for the life of Masud and Therese is just beginning! Protests are already scheduled for January 30.