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22nd Mar 2022

Brits rescue lion and wolf out of Ukraine in minibus during 1,200-mile journey

Kieran Galpin

Via Facebook

The animals are now safe in Romania

A British veteran has evacuated a lion and wolf from Ukraine after crowdfunding the money and driving the animals out of the country by minibus.

Tim Locks, who fought ISIS alongside Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq, and his friends were part of a 1,200-mile round trip that hoped to rescue a wolf and lion from war-torn southeast Ukraine. The four-day mission saw the crew lift the animals out of their enclosures via crane before driving towards Romania where they safely delivered their live cargo to a zoo in the northeastern city of Radauti.


“It took three hours as the crane driver and digger driver didn’t speak a word of English, and we don’t speak Ukrainian, so there was an interpreter who translated everything,” the 45-year-old told Metro. “We managed to get them in with literally probably 20mm spare on the top and 50mm spare on the back.”

As they left the city, Lock and his crew were accompanied by a police escort. They only had 35 minutes before curfew started, all while “the air raid sirens were going.”

Via Facebook

“We kept reminding each other that we’d got a lion and a wolf in the back of the van as we were driving and looking back to see there they were, just over our shoulders,” he said.

Declaring their cargo as a “lion and a wolf” at checkpoints, Locks was met with some resistance from one guard who emphasised that “there was a war on and it was no time to joke around.”

He explained: “I took him to the side of the van, opened the door, and showed him this proper big lion, like Aslan out Narnia.”

Via Facebook

Once across the border to Romania – and having dropped their interpreter off in Ukraine – the group spent two hours filling in paperwork. Throughout their journey, the group were escorted consistently by blue lights, before arriving at their destination in the early hours of March 20.

With yet another crane and 20 strong Romanians, the group unloaded their precious cargo.

“No one thought we would pull it off,” he said. “But we managed to get the lion in and he was happy.”

He continued: “We carried the wolf out in one go and got the cage away and got the door shut and it was tea and biscuits all round, with everybody asking how we managed to do it. It was quite a nice little zoo with tigers and bears and we stayed for a couple of hours.”

Now, the army vet is back off to Ukraine to continue evacuating animals which he hopes will be easier if border guards remember them.

“Strangely, no one else wanted to do this, so this is what we do,” he said, updating followers on Facebook. 

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