Kimba – In Memory


A white lion family – Kimba, his mate Sofia, and son Gino – arrived from the Buenos Aires Zoo in the fall of 2018. He and Sofia had been born in South Africa in 2005. Then, they’d been imported to the Buenos Aires Zoo in Argentina in 2008. Years later, their son Gino was born there at the zoo.

Now that the Buenos Aires Zoo was shifting its focus from being a government-funded zoo to a compassionate eco-park, they’d be exhibiting native species only. That meant many of their animals would be relocated, including this lion family.

We worked with them for almost two years on this possible relocation. Zoo staff flew to the United States to look at many possible sanctuaries for their lions. After visiting The Wildcat Sanctuary, they decided it would be the best place for their lions to live out their lives, wild at heart.

Arranging transport for Kimba and six other lions was a monumental undertaking. It’s never easy coordinating international rescues. There are so many authorities, agencies, and entities involved, all speaking a different language.

Life at the Sanctuary

Kimba and the other six lions made the 6,000 mile journey, arriving safely after being transported by airplane to Miami and then driven to Minnesota.

The sight of his mane blowing in the breeze as he ran into his new habitat is a sight we’ll never forget. Once Sofia joined him, the two can be found lying next to each other, soaking up the sights of the trees, tall grass, and natural amenities all around them. What a difference from the city noise they’d always been surrounded with. The peace and tranquility is something they so obviously enjoy.

How You Can Help

The day of rescue is only day one of a lifetime of care expenses. If you’d like to help with Kimba’s support, a wonderful way to do that is by becoming his sponsor parent. Or even a one time donation to help with his support would mean the world for him. You can do that easily using the buttons you’ll see at the top of this page. Thank you!


Over the July 4th holiday weekend of 2021, caretakers noticed a discharge coming from Kimba’s right eye. Our vet team came onsite to assess Kimba.

It was confirmed they he had degenerative eye disease.

The globe was ruptured and sadly, there was no way to save his eye. Our veterinarians surgically removed it.

Kimba was kept on pain medication to keep him calm as the incision healed, so he was a bit groggy and quiet for a few days.

As time passed, Kimba became very used to living with just one eye. He still follows his mate Sofi around, wherever she goes.

Kimba’s exam & surgery certainly falls under the umbrella of critical care—something that none of our residents go without, thanks to your amazing support.


In Memory

Sadly, we helped 18-year-old lion Kimba move on to his new wild life in the sky. Even though we knew this day would come, it was still unexpected.

In 2021, Kimba had a ruptured eye caused by a degenerative disease. We’d been watching the other eye closely knowing the same issue would someday occur. As soon as it did this week, we helped him pass peacefully.

With heavy hearts, we said our goodbyes. Sofi was also given the opportunity to see Kimba so she could say goodbye, too.

The expression “heart of a lion” really rang true with Kimba. It means one who is determined and brave –and Kimba was both.

We know the animals we rescue are all wild, even if born in captivity. But some like Kimba are more than wild at heart, they have wild spirits.

Born in South Africa, he retained his wild nature which meant keeping his distance from humans. Kimba, his mate Sofia, and son Gino all arrived from the Buenos Aires Zoo in the fall of 2018.

Even with Kimba’s wild nature, he had a huge heart. And his heart belonged to his companion Sofi. Behind that bold lion roar was a gentle soul. You could see it in the way he loved her and how gentle he could be taking food from his caretakers.

Kimba and Sofi were always determined to make sure they had access to their wild space outdoors. They would sleep in their heated building until they heard the UTV from afar and then leave the building to ensure the caretakers could not lock them in.

They outsmarted us several times, and the caretakers took it in stride – never wanting to trick them to come in, but instead working on building their trust.

Kimba would often nap furthest away from commotion, belly up in the sun. But the Ukraine cubs sure got his attention when they arrived, and he spent time greeting them at the front fence.

Kimba was regal and strong. He loved to begin the caroling sessions here at the sanctuary and have the other lions respond. His legacy will live on with mate Sofi and son Gino. Sofi is strong and will do just fine and have the company of the other lions in Pride Prairie.

Kimba your spirit is finally free. Enjoy being the wild lion you were always meant to be.