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‘World’s Loneliest Lion’ Returns to Africa After Years Alone in Zoo–WATCH His First Steps

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The ‘world’s loneliest lion’ has returned to his natural habitat after he was abandoned in a private zoo in Armenia for five years.

15-year-old lion Ruben was part of a pride living in the now-closed zoo, but while all the other lions were relocated, Ruben was left behind in a tiny concrete cell for five long years.

Now, Ruben has made a 5,200-mile journey to South Africa where he took his first steps out of his travel crate into the home of his ancestors.

The epic journey was organized by Animals Defenders International (ADI) and Qatar Airways Cargo.

Ruben is now being rehabilitated at the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary in Free State, South Africa.

“Lions are the most sociable of the big cats, living in family prides in the wild,” said ADI President Jan Creamer. “Seeing him walk on grass for the first time, hearing the voices of his own kind, with the African sun on his back, brought us all to tears.”

At first, Ruben’s legs were wobbling due to malnutrition and a “lifetime of no exercise.”

However, Ruben’s resilience has stunned everyone at the sanctuary. He strode from his travel crate and followed a trail of sausages to a giant catnip punchbag—his first toy—and immediately started playing with it.

After not hearing other lions for years, Ruben has already started to get his roar back, his morning calls getting steadily louder as he regains his confidence.

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