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Lion Simba and leopard Eva flew from Chelyabinsk to Tanzania

The cats, saved from death, became participants in the first-ever repatriation of wild animals from Russia to Africa

A special plane with lion Simba and leopard Eva flew from Chelyabinsk International Airport to Kilimanjaro. The animals went to the rehabilitation center «Kilimanjaro animal wildlife crew & educational center»in the city of Moshi (Tanzania), where comfortable cages with a large free area were built for them. Specialists will monitor the adaptation and life of the cats. Private Boeing 737-500 was specially re-equipped for the transportation of Simba and Eva. Russian Copper Company financed the repatriation and adaptation of the animals.

Tatiana Balanchuk, director of RCC Charity Fund, comments: «The story of Simba and Eva exposed the actual problem of animal cruelty and set a precedent for its solution. We agreed to help, even though at that time we had no idea how much work would have to done and how many procedures no one had gone through before. However, we succeeded, and what is very important, this experience will help us protect and return other exotic animals to their natural habitat in the future».

During the flight veterinarian, Karen Dallakyan accompanies the animals from the «SAVE ME» foundation, who rescued the exhausted raptors. The whole country followed Simba's fate: he came to the Ural veterinarian in 2020 with broken legs, exhausted and with purulent wounds all over his body. Months of rehabilitation gave the grown lion cub the opportunity to return to his homeland, Tanzania. Animal protectors saved the leopard Eva, who went to Africa together with Simba, from the fate of becoming an interior accessory.

Karen Dallakyan, veterinarian and the founder of the "SAVE ME" fund, comments: «In order for the cats to pass the flight painlessly, we have made preliminary preparations. Simba and Eva kept on a diet and took the recommended anti-stress medication for such cases. Our charges will fly in the cabin under my supervision. Especially for this purpose, the flight was equipped with cages that meet all the safety requirements. After the arrival, we will stay with the cats for a while to help them adapt to their new home and the local climate».

Repatriation of the animals becomes possible through support of the Ministry of Nature and Tourism of the United Republic of Tanzania and the Federal Service for the Supervision of Natural Resources of Russia (Rosprirodnadzor Russia). The government of Chelyabinsk region and the governor of the region Alexei Teksler helped the zoo protectors. Irina Teksler, a public figure, founder of the Fund to support social, cultural and educational projects 2020, attended the event of sending Simba and Eva to Tanzania.

Irina Teksler comments: «Today with tears in our eyes we all getting Simba and Eva off to Tanzania. Their destiny left nobody indifferent not only in the Chelyabinsk region, but also in all Russia. It is a great holiday. The history of rescue and repatriation of cats took one and a half years. Many thanks to all the people who helped to bring today's day closer».

In Tanzania Simba and Eva will live in the Kilimanjaro animal rehabilitation crew wildlife & educational center, where spacious aviaries have been built for the cats, as well as special houses where veterinarians can examine animals. The area of Simba's enclosure is 6,000 m2, there is a swimming pool for bathing, an indoor enclosure, a platform for activities and climbing, and a special block for medical procedures. Eva's aviary area is 2500 m2, it also has a drinking pond, a platform for climbing and activities, and an indoor aviary. Throughout their lives, the caretakers of the center will care for Simba and Eva.

Kilimanjaro Animal C.R.E.W. Rehabilitation Center (known as Makoa Farm) has been operating in Tanzania since 2013. Two veterinarians from Germany, Dr Laszlo Paizs and Dr Elisabeth Stegmaier founded it. They have dedicated their entire lives to the care of wild animals in Africa, and the opening of Makoa Farm was the culmination of their work in Tanzania.

Today 3 veterinarians and 70 support staff work full time at the center.

The mission of the center is to support and rehabilitate wild animals affected by human influence. The center's vets, on request of TANAPA (Tanzania National Parks Authority), TAWA (Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority) and TAWIRI (Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute), travels to the national parks and other protected areas in the country to help wild animals affected by human activities (poaching, collisions with vehicles, etc.).

Animals that need hospitalization (serious injuries) or who cannot survive in the wild nature (for example, young animals, whose parents were killed by poachers) are transported to the Makoa Center, where they receive treatment and further rehabilitation if necessary.

Animals that can survive on their own in the wild are eventually released into the wild with special sensors. The veterinarians of the center regularly monitor and control the released patients of the center.

In addition, there is a kid’s center where the younger generation of Tanzanians learn about the need to protect wildlife. In addition to its primary mission of rescuing wildlife, the center never fails to help pets in distress.

Now, the center is home to about a hundred wild animals of various species. Some of the larger mammals are elephants, zebras, antelopes, cheetahs, servals and monkeys. Large-scale construction of new treatment buildings and modern infrastructure is currently underway at the Center. The Center financed by donations from visitors and non-indifferent tourist companies. In addition, a number of European institutions and animal protection organizations periodically give grants to the center for the purchase of specialized food and veterinary equipment. At the state level, the center cooperates with TANAPA, TAWA and TAWIRI.

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