Lion Nikola at FELIDA

LION Nikola

Rescued from the streets of Montenegro 


In January 2022 FOUR PAWS was contacted by the local authorities of Montenegro about a illegally kept lion cub that had escaped from private keeping and was roaming the streets near Budva on the Adriatic coast. After 10 days the starved and exhausted lion cub, who got the name Nikola, was rescued and brought to a temporary safe place. 

From the streets to safety

After Nikola was rescued, a team of dedicated volunteers took care of the young lion in a safe location. The FOUR PAWS team visited Nikola multiple times for vet checks, health and enrichment advice. There are no zoos or sanctuaries in Montenegro that could house a young lion, so it was important to move him to a long-term and species-appropriated home at FELIDA Big Cat Sanctuary. 

The journey through Europe

Together with the local authorities FOUR PAWS worked hard on the transfer of the lion cub to FELIDA. To prepare him for the journey, we performed ‘crate training’ on site. We teach him with ‘positive reinforcement’ training to walk into the transport crate all by himself. This way he does not need anesthesia and learns that the crate is not scary. On the 20th June 2022 all of the necessary paperwork was finally ready and Nikola was on its way to his new home. The FOUR PAWS team accompanying the young lion traveled through six country borders and arrived 2.000 kilometers later at FELIDA. 

First time for everything

The first few days after his arrival were stressful for Nikola. The young lion had never been in contact with other lions or people and was quickly overwhelmed by all the new sounds. With the help of the animal caretakers, Nikola is now feeling more and more comfortable with his new surroundings. He is starting to explore everything, eats well, is curious towards our animal caretakers and above all he loves to play with his ball made out of old fire hoses. We are so happy to see the young lion flourish after the chaotic first months of his life. 

We are keeping a close eye on Nikola and are looking which enclosure will suits his needs best. 

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  • Born in September 2021
  • Roamed the streets of Montenegro for 10 days before he was rescued
  • Loves his ball made of old fire hoses
  • Is very curious about his neighbours Tsezar and Simba