Leeuwin Vasylyna

Lioness Vasylyna

Surviving the wreckages of war


Lioness Vasylyna was found all alone, surviving the wreckages of war on Ukraine’s streets in the Kharkiv region. The young lioness had escaped from private keeping and found herself all alone, hungry and surrounded by war. 

A traumatic start of life

On 11th of August 2022 FOUR PAWS received reports that a lioness was roaming in village in Ukraine. The young lioness was previously kept as a cub by a private person in Kharkiv region, in a small village called Vysoke, and had escaped. Fortunately, with the help of Wild Animal Rescue near Kyiv, they managed to catch her and bring her to their rescue centre as a temporary solution. There, Vasylyna was cared for by a dedicated local team. However, their facilities are not equipped for her long-term needs and is located in the midst of the war. That is why it was crucial to bring the young lioness to FELIDA as soon as possible, where she is safe and can get the life she deserves.

Lioness Vasylyna in her temporary enclosure at Wild Animal Rescue

Finally safe

FOUR PAWS has coordinated numerous rescues in the past, but this one was exceptionally challenging due to the ongoing war. We have worked tirelessly to bring her to FELIDA. Despite the challenges posed by the war and bureaucracy, on June 5th 2023 Vasylyna was finally ready to leave the war behind. Her journey to safety began with the Wild Animal Rescue team escorting her to an overnight stop at our BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr. From there, the FOUR PAWS team accompanied her to the border of Poland. She seemed to sense that this trip was for own good as she remained calm and alert. The border checks took several hours, but thanks to the hard work of the transport and FOUR PAWS team, they were able to continue their journey to FELIDA. Vasylyna arrived safely at the sanctuary on the 7th of June 2023. 

Lioness Vasylyna released at FELIDA

The release of lioness Vasylyna at FELIDA

A new chance in life

The first few moments after her arrival were a bit stressful. Vasylyna really needed time to rest. We are currently giving her enough space to recover from the long journey. Gradually, she is starting to explore her surroundings and gains trust in our animal caretakers. We are very proud of her bravery and progress! She can now often be found on one of the specially made platforms higher up in her enclosure. A great way to train her muscles and at the same time have great view where she can keep an eye on everything and everyone. We are so happy to see the young lioness is doing well after the long journey. A special thanks goes to Wild Animal Rescue and our FOUR PAWS colleagues in Ukraine who made this rescue happen.

In the upcoming weeks we will continue to monitor her closely and guide the beautiful lioness every step of the way in order to help her feel at home. When the time is right, we want to move her to an enclosure next to the young lion Nikola and slowly introduce them to each other. If all goes well, we hope to set up a socialization program for the two young lions. 

Update July 2023: Medical check up

Our wildlife veterinarians of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research came to FELIDA to do a general health check on lioness Vasylyna. They checked the kidneys, took some blood and urine samples and performed a general body check. Although we have to await for the results from the lab, the young lioness seems to be in a very good condition!

The rest of the medical check went smooth and afterwards Vasylyna woke up well in a nice bed of straw in her indoor enclosure. The young lioness is already back in her outdoor enclosure where she is enjoying the sun on her fur.

Update August 2023: there is a spark!

All the results of the medical check last month showed that Vasylyna is in perfect health. So, it was time for her to meet the young lion Nikola. Their first eye contact via the inside enclosure was a big hit. That is why we decided to move Vasylyna to a larger enclosure next to Nikola. The crate training that was needed for her internal relocation went very smooth. After her release, Vasylyna immediately started to explore all the new sounds and smells. She needed a bit of time to get used to her new surroundings, but the young lioness soon felt completely at home.

It was time for them to meet! Both lions are full of energy and needed some time to get used to each other’s enthusiasm. But after a couple of days, they started to settle down and it looks like LOVE IS IN THE AIR!

We are so PROUD of this important milestone in their young lives. They still have a long way to go together, but the first signs look very promising. When the time is right, the next steps in their socialisation process with be discussed our behavioural experts. In the meantime, we will keep a close eye on the lovely couple.

facts about vasylyna

  • Born in September 2021
  • Was previously kept as a cub by a private person in Ukraine
  • Has a playful character and loves to play with her food
  • Is curious about everything and everyone