News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
27 Oct 2018
6:10 am

Four Paws drives animal rescues at ‘zoo from hell’

Ilse de Lange

The team plans to evacuate three lions, Dunshi the bear, a zebra, fox, waterbuck, turtle, red deer and three fallow deer in a single day.

Lenci the lion, with a severe eye infection, became the face of a mission to rescue animals at the Safari Park Zoo in Fier, Albania. Picture: Four Paws

Three lions and other wild animals which have been kept under atrocious conditions at an Albanian animal park – that international media dubbed “the zoo from hell” – may finally get a chance to live a normal animal life.

The Albanian tourism and environment department, supported by international animal welfare organisation Four Paws, will start the delicate operation to evacuate the 12 severely neglected animals within the next few days after government at last gave the green light to a rescue mission.

The government agreed to confiscate the animals at the Safari Park Zoo in the city of Fier after an exposé by the international media about the zoo conditions.

The publication of pictures from inside the zoo caused a huge global public outcry.

Video footage showed the dreadful conditions under which the animals were kept but it was especially the condition of Lenci the lion, who suffers from a severe eye infection, and a three-legged female bear called Dunshi which horrified animal lovers.

Four Paws investigated the zoo several times since December 2015, but was unable to intervene because of legal regulations.

Ioana Dungler, director of wild animals department at Four Paws, said a team from her organisation was currently working under pressure on the construction of transport crates and putting the final touches on the rescue mission.

“Since the wild animals are in a bad condition, we are working closely together with the Albanian ministry of tourism and environment to prepare the rescue mission meticulously,” she said. “An international team of veterinarians will supervise the entire evacuation. This mission is extremely delicate and we hope to get all the animals out of this horrible zoo unhurt.

“For safety reasons, we are unfortunately unable to provide any concrete information on the time of the evacuation, but it will take place in the next few days.”

The team plans to evacuate three lions, Dunshi the bear, a zebra, fox, waterbuck, turtle, red deer and three fallow deer in a single day.

“Our priority is to get the animals into a safe environment as quickly as possible where we can provide them with food and medial care,” Dungler said. “After years of torture the zoo animals from Fier deserve a peaceful life in a species-appropriate home.”


  • Fiona Miles, director of Four Paws in South Africa, has appealed to the public to help in any way they could as these type of rescue missions could only be executed successfully through the support of animal lovers.

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