International rescues are complicated

For two years, we’d been working with the Argentina government about the placement of many of their zoo’s lions at our sanctuary. Since Argentina had agreed to end their exhibition of exotic animals, there were eight lions there in need of placement.

International rescues are never easy. Originally, all the lions were to come during the fall season. We wanted them to acclimate to the weather in Minnesota before winter set in.

We hurried with the build-out of a new area and central animal building for them called Pride Prairie.

Five of the lions did arrive in the fall – Chupino, Salteña, Gino, Kimba and Sofia. But the final three, Leo, his sister Mansa, and their father Nico kept getting delayed. Sadly, at 22, Nico’s health deteriorated we knew he could not make the journey.  He passed away just before they were finally scheduled for their journey.

Leo and Mansa’s journey begins

Mansa had lived at La Plata Zoo her whole life, alongside her father Nico, her mother, and her sister. Her mother died 5 years ago. Her sister died 2 years ago. And sadly, now her father had passed. Mansa’s experienced so much loss in her lifetime.

She and her brother Leo had both been born at La Plata zoo 11 years earlier. But they’d been separated at seven months old, Leo being sent to La Maxima Zoo.

We’re happy we’re able to finally reunite these two siblings and introduce them to even more lions here.

But we didn’t know just how hard that would be!

Delays, delays, delays

Leo and Mansa were both eventually transported to the airport in Buenos Aires for their flight to Miami where they’d have to go through customs.

Unfortunately, they were held up in Florida for hours and hours. During that time, the country was being hit with some dangerous storms. So the decision was made for them to stay at a temporary holding facility until it was safe to travel.

Days turned into a couple of weeks as Mother Nature continued throwing winter storms in their path home. We made two trips down to Florida to arrange for their care and transportation.

When the weather finally cleared, we drove them the last leg of their long journey, straight through to Minnesota. They were home in time for the holidays – the greatest gift of all!

Mansa’s personality

As we’ve experienced before with other female lions, Mansa was much more cautious and wary than her brother Leo. Who can blame her since she’d been taken from the only home she’d ever known? This would be a whole new world for her.

But, with Leo beside her, she started to settle in. She loved the privacy of a manger we built for her in her indoor, heated bedroom. She also enjoys sunny mornings outside, and enrichment we make especially for her. 

We’re thrilled to see her thoroughly in love with her new home. Everything we went through to get her here was so worth it. And she and her brother are so happy to be there for each other, through it all!


How fantastic would it be for Mansa to have you as her sponsor parent!
If you’d like to do that, you can sign up HERE.