Salteña’s a female lioness who arrived at the sanctuary in 2018. Though records on her birth aren’t clear, it’s estimated she was 25 years old when she came to us. She and six other lions made the long 6,000 mile journey to Minnesota from Argentina.

We were told Salteña spent her life living in a circus transport cage with her mate. The circus had abandoned them in 2011, leaving them starving and dehydrated. Authorities placed them at the Mendoza Zoo in Argentina.

An animal welfare group in Argentina later reached out to us, asking if we could take in the last two remaining lions from the Mendoza Zoo. Thirteen other lions had already died at this very old zoo. Animals weren’t spayed or neutered, so thousands were in cages there. Some had already escaped, roaming the zoo grounds.

Since there was only one outside area there for the lions, Salteña had been sharing it with the last male lion, Chupino. When he was outside, she was inside a small, dark cage in the mountainside. We knew, at her advanced age, transport would be very risky. But we just had to give her this last chance to have the life she dreamed of.

Life at the Sanctuary

We held our breath as the transport truck doors opened. We had two veterinarians on hand to deal with whatever Salteña needed. Well, were we ever surprised when she let out so many roars letting us know she’d finally arrived!

Today, she enjoys her comfy straw bed more than anything else. She has one inside and one outside, whichever she prefers. And, though Chupino is totally smitten with her, Salteña calls the shots with him. She’s a very confident lioness!

To see her so content now, after so many years of neglect (the first two photos above), is the greatest feeling in the world!

How You Can Help

If you’d like to become Salteña’s sponsor parent, that would be such an amazing thing to do for this special lady. As our oldest resident, Salteña requires medications and supplements to help her live comfortably. A one time donation toward her care would also be very helpful. 

If you’d like to do either, simply use the buttons above on this page. Thank you for caring about her welfare, too!



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