Lion Simba at FELIDA

LION Simba

Exploited in a music video


Simba reached the news at the end of 2020 when he was used for pictures and a video clip by a Romanian artist. The material was shared on social media and since he was clearly injured, many people in Romania were shocked about it and this led to a public outburst. Luckily we could rescue him and since October 2021 he lives at FELIDA Big Cat Sanctuary, where he finally gets the love and special care that he needs.

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Lonely and alone

After Simba reached the news, he was seized and brought to a local zoo. However not much later he returned to Picior de Munte in the southern part of Romania, since the owner has a permit to keep him, his siblings and his parents. After the separation Simba could not be reunited peacefully with his family and therefore he was kept separately in a small cage, where he could hear but not see his family. Without any distractions, he was lonely and alone.

From sadness to safety

After long negotiations with the owner, FOUR PAWS managed to convince the owner to handover Simba and his six siblings. On the 1st of October, 2021, after an exhausting rescue mission and a long journey, Simba finally stepped foot into his new home.

His release at FELIDA was an absolute pleasure: he was playing within minutes with enrichment and ever since, he has been busy playing, rolling and running around. The grass under his paws, all the new elements: he enjoys it all like a child in the playground.

Simba in his hammock

Treatment plan

However, despite his joyful behavior he is also the lion that worries us most. We clearly see that he has many health issues. Most likely a combination of malnutrition and inbreeding led to the fact he is very small. His spine is bend, his paws are in a strange position, he has teeth and sight problems and furthermore, when he is not playing or running around, he is showing some stereotypic behavior which can be a result of boredom in the past or pain.

Shortly after their arrival, we had Simba medically examined by specialised wildlife veterinarians. We know that Simba has physical problems that are comparable to the problems of Masoud and Terez. What we also see with Simba is that, even though he is a happy and playful animal for big parts of the day, his physical deformities and problems also play a role mentally. His eyesight is very poor, he shows stereotypical behavior by chewing/sucking his tail, and he cannot handle too many stimuli and distractions at the same time.

We believe that, through intensive care and guidance, including trainings and close observations as well as small steps according to our tailor-made treatment plan, we slowly but surely can get this special animal back on track. It will be a long road in which patience is key. But with us, Simba will get all the time he needs. 

Lion Simba getting a CT scan

Updates of 2023: several internal relocations

The recovery of Simba’s elbow is going well. We are very happy to see how he has improved so far, however we are still keeping a close eye on him as this can change again in the future. Because of his traumatic past, the 5-year-old lion has severe physical deformities and is showing stereotypical behaviours. He cannot handle too many stimuli and distractions at the same time. That is one of the reasons why we have decided to move him to another enclosure with tiger Tsezar as his neighbour. 

As a result of his deformities, Simba cannot be socialised with other animals. Therefore, we try to give him as much social contact as possible and decided to move him again to another enclosure. This time next to the beautiful lioness Elza. Because Simba has problems with his motor skills, we first adjusted the platforms with protective borders and smaller steps. Now, Simba can safely and comfortably enjoy his new environment. The new hammock immediately got his approval!

Updates of 2022: ups and downs

We have worked hard for our Simba this year! Not only did we celebrated his 4th birthday, but it was also his first FELIDA anniversary. 

In the summer of 2022, we have seen that his neurological problems are emerging a bit more. Therefore we have schedule a detailed veterinary check-up for him. We went with Simba to animal clinic AniCura de Tweede Lijn in Wilhelminaoord where it was possible for us to do a CT scan. The crate training that was needed to bring Simba to the clinic went very smooth: Simba trusted us completely and walked calmly into his crate. Also the examination, by our wildlife veterinarian Mandana Pötsch of Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, went well. 

We discussed the results from the CT scan of our lion Simba with our medical specialists. The scan showed that he has problems with his elbow. Together with the experts, it was decided that he needed surgery to treat a part of the bone.

The vets performed an arthroscopic procedure on Simba, which is a less invasive surgical technique. The surgery went well, thanks to the teamwork of surgeon Henrik Wagter of veterinary clinic AniCura de Tweede Lijn in Wilhelminaoord and our wildlife veterinarian Mandana Pötsch of Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research. His recovery is going well and very pleased with the result.


  • Born in Romania on 1 July 2018
  • Brother of Elza, Vincent, Roman, Dolf, Ellie and Geena
  • Reached the news because he was used in a music video
  • He may be small, but his roar is one of the loudest 
  • Small lion with many health problems due to a combination of malnutrition and inbreeding

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