Chupino is a male lion who arrived at the sanctuary in 2018. We’re unsure of Chupino’s exact age since there were no records from the time period he was at the zoo in Argentina. Zookeepers informed us they believed he was in his 20’s, though.

We spent a long time arranging for him, and six other lions, to travel the long 6,000-mile journey to Minnesota from Argentina.

He and a female lion Salteña were the last two lions at Argentina’s Mendoza Zoo.

They had to share the one mountainside outdoor space there, taking turns rotating from a dark, caged cave area to the outside.

Thirteen other lions had already died there. The zoo didn’t neuter their animals, so numbers quickly got out of hand. Animals were escaping and roaming the grounds.

That’s why an animal welfare group in Argentina reached out to us to see if we could take in Chupino and Salteña. Zoos in Argentina were changing their focus, becoming eco-parks exhibiting native species only. We were happy to be able to offer them a home here at the sanctuary.

Chupino is a very different looking lion since he has no tail. “Chupino” means having no tail or one that is shorter than normal.

We’ll never know if he was born this way or his tail was amputated for some reason.

Life at the Sanctuary

Chupino’s a very confident lion. The minute he stepped out into his new area, he began marking everything and rubbing the pine trees.

He loves toy balls to play with and is thrilled with his outdoor manger area. He sits high up on it, using is as a perch, watching the tiger trio across the way or asserting himself to fellow male lion Leo who’s also close by.

But what he loves most of all is his companion Salteña. He’s never far from her. He loves to roar to her and we hope he’s saying, “We’re finally, finally home!” They truly are.

How You Can Help

International rescues are very difficult and very expensive.  That’s why our sponsorship program is so important. It helps provide the best life possible for those we’re able to rescue.

Thank you for considering becoming Chupino’s sponsor parent, or even giving a one time donation toward his care.  There are easy buttons at the top of this page you can click to help. It makes such a difference for him!


Match made in heaven – Chupino and his new girl

My heart is heavy.  Chupino, the sweetest lion in the world, is declining and it’s hard to see. He’s become incontinent and is showing neurological issues, too.

We knew he was in his 20’s when he arrived in 2018. But he’s been healthy, kind and his sweet soul has given so much love to other cats who needed it, especially when they were at the end of their lives.

You all know Chupino’s love affair with our Queens Saltena and Shanti Deva. He had to love them from afar since both were geriatric and too compromised to live with a male lion.  Chupino has waited several years to finally have the partner he’s longed for.

Recently, we moved Chupino near one of our witness protection cats.  She arrived mentally shut down but it wasn’t long before we saw Chupino at the fence line rubbing his face against hers. Soon they were grooming each other along the shared wall and she came to life.

We decided to try a playdate and they’ve been together ever since.  His new gal was very respectful of Chupino.  She’d approach Chupino gently and wanted to smell him from behind.  Chupino would jump several feet in the air like a scared housecat and run away.

She was persistent and would try this again and eventually laid down next to him.  As the days went on, they were back-to-back and always in each other’s shadow.  Never once was there a fight or spat.

Chupino finally has the love story he deserves.

But this union happened just as Chupino began showing his age. He was beginning to be incontinent and showing other medical concerns of a geriatric lion.

When I learned of his medical issues and saw him declining, my heart broke. This sweet boy finally had what he’d longed for and now his time was limited.  It didn’t seem fair.

But then I looked at it another way.  Maybe, he just kept holding on for this moment.  To finally have companionship at the end of life, just like he gave Saltena and Shanti Deva.

We are so happy Chupino can fulfill his lifelong dream of companionship.  We hope we can help him with his health issues. But understand his senior body can only do so much.

We will cherish each and every day we have with him.  We know his new partner will do the same.