Adult Lion and Wolf Transported from Ukrainian Zoo to Facility in Romania amid War in Ukraine

Simba the lion and a wolf named Akyla were evacuated from a zoo in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, to another facility in Radauti, Romania, earlier this week

Akyla the wolf, Simba the lion
Photo: Eldar Emric/AP/Shutterstock (2)

An adult lion and wolf have found a new home after leaving a war-torn Ukraine.

Earlier this week, a lion named Simba and a wolf named Akyla were evacuated from a zoo in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, to another facility in Radauti, Romania, according to a report from the Associated Press.

Simba and Akyla were fully awake for the four-day journey between countries to relocate due to a lack of animal tranquilizers in Ukraine, the outlet said.

After spending multiple days in cages in the back of a van, the animals adapted to their new enclosures in Romania. The AP reported that the pair is "regaining their strength" and relaxing.

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Getting Simba and Akyla out of Ukraine was made possible thanks to the efforts of "several animal rights groups and private citizens," the AP reported.

Among the zoo animals' saviors are two men from the United Kingdom, the outlet said, who went into Ukraine voluntarily to rescue the animals and bring them to their new home.

"I couldn't find a driver from Romania to go and help, also not from Ukraine, so these guys were absolutely fabulous — they put their lives in danger," Roxana Ciornei, president of the Romania-based animal rights group Patrocle's House, said. "But they arrived safely here."

"If there is something this war brought on is incredible cooperation between organizations," added Sebastian Taralunga, a member of the animal rights group Animals International, one of the many nonprofits that aided in relocating the animals.

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Even with plenty of assistance, transporting the two zoo animals was not easy. During the trek, the van carrying the animals was not granted access to cross through Romania's Siret border point, which meant it had to drive through the dangerous Carpathian Mountains instead, the AP reported.

"It's difficult to get people out of Ukraine if they're in very dangerous areas, but to bring out a lion and a wolf … was mission impossible. I was fifty-fifty on whether those animals and those people would make it out alive," said Gabriel Paun, the EU director at Animals International.

During the journey, Simba suffered an injury after hitting himself against his cage. Veterinarians, the AP reported, said the injury "was not serious and would heal on its own."

RELATED VIDEO: As Russia's Invasion of Ukraine Continues, Citizens Around the World Still Manage to Uplift Each Other

Simba and Akyla's trek occurred as Russia's attacks on Ukraine continue following the start of Russia's large-scale invasion on Feb. 24 — the first major land conflict in Europe in decades.

Details of the fighting change by the day, but hundreds of civilians have already been reported dead or wounded, including children. Millions of Ukrainians have also fled, the United Nations says. The invasion, ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, has drawn condemnation around the world and increasingly severe economic sanctions against Russia.

With NATO forces massing in the region around Ukraine, various countries have also pledged aid or military support to the resistance. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for peace talks — so far unsuccessful — while urging his country to fight back.

Putin, 69, insists Ukraine has historic ties to Russia and he is acting in the best security interests of his country. Zelenskyy, 44, vowed not to bend. "Nobody is going to break us, we're strong, we're Ukrainians," he told the European Union in a speech in the early days of the fighting, adding, "Life will win over death. And light will win over darkness."

The Russian attack on Ukraine is an evolving story, with information changing quickly. Follow PEOPLE's complete coverage of the war here, including stories from citizens on the ground and ways to help.

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