Lion Lenci at FELIDA



Rescued from “Europe’s worst zoo”

Lenci was together with lions Zhaku and Bobby, rescued from the Safari Park Zoo Fier in Albania by FOUR PAWS. This zoo was known as “Europe’s worst zoo”. Lenci became most famous during the rescue mission due to bad inflammation of his eye. Pictures from Lenci with his black, pinched eye went globally. Since May 9th 2019, he lives at FELIDA Big Cat Centre.

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Liberated from concrete

In October 2018, a FOUR PAWS rescue team managed to rescue the three lions, as well as the other wildlife from Safari Park Zoo Fier. Lenci had lived on a concrete floor in a small cage for years. There was no protection from wind, rain or sunlight. To top it off, he suffered a serious eye infection. After the rescue, the lions were transferred to a temporary residence in the Albanian capital, Tirana, until the Albanian ministry authorised the transport to the Netherlands. Unfortunately, the ministry initially did not cooperate, and bureaucratic arbitrariness hindered the movement of the three lions. FOUR PAWS launched an online petition signed by nearly 70,000 supporters. With success: the lions got the green light. After a journey of 52 hours and almost 3,000 kilometres through ten countries, they were finally home.

After the rescue, the care begins

Sometimes we say that the work really starts after the rescue. Lenci, Zhaku and Bobby were all in very bad shape. So bad, unfortunately, that help came too late for lion Zhaku: he died two months after arriving at FELIDA. Lenci also didn't have an easy time with his health, although he initially seemed to be doing better thanks to medical treatments, specialised care and, moreover, thanks to the peace and space, he struggled with a herniated disk not much later. Nerve-wracking times were approaching because we did not know if and how Lenci would be able to recover from this. But again, Lenci turned out to be a fighter: he also survived this difficult time.

Happy lion

His appearance still shows that Lenci was seriously neglected not so long ago: due to the severe eye inflammation at the time, the nerves in his face were damaged, causing his eye, nose and mouth to be slightly crooked and, therefore, he has an asymmetrical face. On the other hand, in his behaviour, his difficult past is hardly noticeable. Lenci is a good-humoured and playful lion who loves all kinds of enrichment and enthusiastically roars every day in the "lion choir" consisting of Bobby, Ivan-Asen, Masoud and Terez.


  • Born in Albania in 2010
  • Presumably the brother of Bobby
  • Can be recognised by his asymmetrical face
  • Not picky with food
  • Enjoys all kinds of enrichment, as long as it can be destroyed
  • Playful, curious and happy