Previously forced to perform in a circus, the 5-year-old brothers, Vigo and Kumba, are currently being held at a rescue centre in Alicante, Spain, but time is running out for them to reach their permanent home at Isle of Wight Zoo before Brexit could thwart plans.
Veronica Chrisp, Chief Executive of The Wildheart Trust which operates the zoo as part of its wildlife charity work has said:
“We are facing major issues with the logistics of bringing these two majestic animals to their new safe haven here at the zoo and we’re extremely worried about the impact of Brexit or possibly no deal on Brexit.
“With all sorts of industries racing to import and export goods prior to the official Brexit there’s a very real chance that we can’t find or afford a way to get Vigo and Kumba to us before 29th March. After that, our worry is how the transport of animals will be affected by post Brexit customs arrangements. There could be a great deal more red tape to hold up the journey and there’s talk of multi-mile long tailbacks of lorries blocking passage. That’s just something we can’t risk when transporting big cats.”
The race is on for the zoo to bring the lions to the Isle of Wight now but with pre-Brexit demand causing costs to rise for the few suitable transport options more urgent fundraising is needed.
“We’re doing everything we can to give these poor lions a more certain future and are hoping the next few days and weeks see us raising enough to afford both the living accommodation improvements and the transport in time to avoid Brexit stranding them in Europe for an unknown time.”
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Anyone wishing to help with the fundraising effort for the rehoming of these lions can visit https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/kumbaandvigo.
As part of The Wildheart Trust, the zoo provides the accommodation and care element of the charity’s work with big cats and exotic animals – supporting rescue projects and raising awareness of the plight of animals who become victims of the circus and pet trade.