Big Cats in Crisis - The Big Cat Sanctuary

Big Cats in Crisis


Together, we can save them

Big Cats in Crisis


The Big Cat Sanctuary’s “Big Cats in Crisis” campaign aims to provide a forever home for five African lions currently housed at Wildlife Animal Rescue (WAR) in Kyiv, Ukraine. There are four lionesses named Vanda, Amani, Lira and Yuna and one male lion called Rori who the Sanctuary looks to bring to their site in Smarden, Kent. We must raise urgent funds to build a rescue centre and safely transport the lions to the UK. Alongside IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), we plan to evacuate the lions quickly.

The ongoing war has caused much distress to these cats, especially to Yuna and Rori, who have unfortunately suffered from shellshock from a massive attack in Kyiv. You can help us get the lions out of the Ukrainian warzone and into safety.

Donating today can help fund their transportation cost, keep them fed and warm and build them a brand-new rescue centre specially designed for their needs.

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Your Donation Makes a Difference


The donations raised for the project will go towards the transportation costs of moving the cats out of Ukraine and to their temporary holding facilities and ensuring the cats will receive the care they need. While they are living at their temporary facility, we will build a new lion rescue facility beside the current Project Lion enclosures. Once built, they will be welcomed into their forever homes.

Here is how YOU can save them!

Help us bring the lions to their new forever home in the UK!

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Yuna, Rori, Vanda, Amani & Lira


Yuna was discovered living in a 4m² enclosure. When she arrived at the Wildlife Animals Rescue Centre, she was found to be suffering from severe concussion, shell shock and malnourishment due to a poor diet. There was a setback in her recovery when a large attack landed near her enclosure, leaving her traumatised again.

Rori is also thought to have suffered from shellshock and displayed coordination problems from the trauma.

Amani and Lira are sisters and are assumed to be illegally bred for photo exploitation purposes. Both cubs appear fit and healthy and have not required any veterinary treatment thus far.

Vanda is thought to have been kept in an apartment for 5-6 months without any outdoor access or sun and raised on an inappropriate diet. She was infested with parasites and displayed signs of rickets. She is now under the care of the veterinary team and is showing signs of improvement.

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Natalia Popova & IFAW


The lions are temporarily living in a shelter called Wild Animals Rescue Centre (WAR) which Natalia Popova and a small team run. Since the war, Popova’s services have been in increased demand. She would travel, sometimes alone, to some of the most dangerous areas in Ukraine with one mission in mind: to bring the animals to shelter.

In October 2022, IFAW started supporting Wild Animal Rescue. IFAW’s support includes funding emergency needs during the crisis (such as animal feed, veterinary care, and transportation costs for rescue and evacuation missions), improving animal welfare practices, and facilitating obtaining CITES export permits for the evacuation of animals out of Ukraine. To date, IFAW has supported the rescue, care for and evacuation of 17 big cats and two wolves from Wild Animal Rescue to safe new homes in Europe and elsewhere, with more big cats awaiting onward placements.

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Watch Their Story
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Our Mission


  • Transport the lions out of war-torn Ukraine and safely to holding facilities in the EU.
  • Build them a brand new rescue centre at The Big Cat Sanctuary where the lions will live.
  • Transport the lions from the holding facility in the EU to the UK.
  • Welcome the lions to Sanctuary and into their new forever home.

Building a New Lion Rescue Facility


Project Lion has been underway for several months, aiming to enhance the living conditions for our current pride and accommodate additional lions. The urgent appeal to rescue five lions from Ukraine has accelerated our efforts, to build additional new indoor and outdoor rescue facilities. The planned expansion consists of four new outdoor areas and six new indoor dens.

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The Big Cat Sanctuary in Kent, UK, is a renowned family-run centre dedicated to conserving and protecting endangered big cats. With its team of experienced professionals and state-of-the-art facilities, the sanctuary provides a safe and nurturing environment for a variety of big and small cat species, including lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars and cheetahs. The Big Cat Sanctuary strives to secure a brighter future for these magnificent creatures through rescue, education, research, and conservation initiatives.