ROSSEAU - She has finally heard the roar of another lion.
Aspen lion Subira has new Colorado home.
Subira prepares to move from Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary to a new home in Colorado.
Subira came to Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in 1999 when she was a five-month-old lion. She had no contact with other lions until April 19 when she was moved to a new home in Colorado.
“A 17-year-old girl had bought her at an exotic pet auction and then couldn’t look after her,” said Howard Smith, manger of the sanctuary. “She was in poor condition.”
Subira was cared for at the sanctuary for 12 years, but the staff wanted to find her a new home with other lions. When they agreed to make a home for two beavers and an otter from Zoocheck, an organization that finds healthier homes for zoo animals, the opportunity arose to relocate Subira.
“They’re a social animal, they don’t live by themselves,” said Smith. “It wasn’t good for her to be by herself all the time … she should be with other lions.”
He added that the climate in Muskoka bears little resemblance to the African savannah.
The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado maintains about 780 acres of habitat for grizzlies, black bears, wolves and lions.
They have several prides, each with about 20 acres of grassland to call home.
Subira was to be flown down to Colorado in late May or June but when Pat Craig of The Wild Animal Sanctuary had to make a trip to Buffalo to pick up two wolves, the lion hitched a ride south.
Craig arrived at Aspen Valley with a camera crew from National Geographic who filmed the process of sedating and capturing Subira for her trip. It will be part of a future television show.
Smith said the lion travelled well, lying down and relaxing for most of the drive.
The staff at her new home situated her transport cage in a large enclosure in a lion house near a pride rescued from a Bolivian circus.
“All of the other lions outside (and one male inside on the other end of the 15,000 square foot building) began to roar. It was great to see her reaction, as she perked up and listened intently,” wrote Craig in a note to Aspen Valley. “When they were finished, she got up and walked into the enclosure and began to walk around checking it out. Once she was done, she came over to the fence and would lightly moan and talk back to us whenever we talked to her, as if she was eager to join the conversation. The next time the lions roared outside, she stood up and listened intently again, and began to lightly talk again.”
She ate some meat and drank some water.
“She seemed very content and stayed alert listening for more lion talk,” said Craig.
It will be a week or two before they let her meet the lions in the enclosure next to hers.
“We want her to have a good opportunity to get accustomed to, as well as claim, her new territory before we move to that stage of her rehabilitation.”
Craig plans to send pictures and videos to Aspen.
Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary opens to the public on Sunday, May 20 and Smith said they plan to have a goodbye celebration for Subira. There will be photos and videos for the public to enjoy.