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How Qatar Airways Cargo & ADI Rescued Ruben, the World’s Loneliest Lion

The tragic tale of Ruben, known globally as the world’s loneliest lion, imprisoned in desolation for five years in a deserted Armenian zoo, has taken a turn for the better. The benevolent collaboration between Animal Defenders International (ADI) and Qatar Airways Cargo has resulted in a fresh chapter for Ruben in the lush lands of Free State, South Africa.

ADI and Qatar Airways Come to the Rescue

Found in a barren concrete prison after being left behind by a now-closed private zoo, Ruben’s future looked bleak. His isolation from fellow lions and his diminishing hope was evident. The situation seemed dire when ADI, despite their best efforts, struggled to arrange a flight for Ruben out of Armenia.

However, hope arrived in the form of Qatar Airways Cargo. They meticulously organized a massive 5,200-mile journey for Ruben, the 15-year-old lion. Today, in the vast expanses of the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary, Ruben is gradually regaining his majestic roar and rediscovering his lost confidence. Even though the aftermath of prolonged captivity poses challenges, Ruben’s unwavering spirit promises a remarkable recovery.

Watch Ruben’s Journey Home

Elisabeth Oudkerk, SVP of Cargo Sales & Network Planning at Qatar Airways Cargo, commented, “We are committed to preserving wildlife and endangered species. That is why we launched our WeQare Chapter 2 initiative: ‘Rewild the Planet’ in 2020. We pledged to return wildlife and endangered species to their natural habitat, free of charge, and we will continue to do so.”

The Complex Logistics of Live Animal Transport

Detailing the complex logistics involved in such a rescue, Oudkerk added, “Helping ADI and Ruben wasn’t just about transporting a lion; it was about meticulous planning, ensuring the animal’s well-being, and giving back to our planet. When ADI approached us and explained the sad story of Ruben, we immediately knew we had to help them. There are a lot of logistics involved in moving animals like Ruben, from the logistics at the airports involved, the process for loading and unloading the animals from the aircraft to ensuring the correct cages and wellbeing of the animals are in place. It takes a lot of effort from our team to organize such transport – but it is something we are all collectively very proud to be a part of, knowing we helped give back to our planet.”

Seeing Ruben Walk on Grass for the First Time

Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International, expressed her gratitude: “Ruben was really in trouble until Qatar Airways Cargo stepped up. ADI had been funding his care in Armenia since December and when we could find no flights for him we feared he could be stuck there. Then Qatar Airways Cargo ‘WeQare’ initiative stepped in, moving a larger aircraft with hold doors big enough for Ruben’s crate, into the scheduled passenger route out of Yervan. We are so thankful to Qatar Airways Cargo for all their support in helping get Ruben to South Africa. Seeing Ruben walk on grass for the first time, hearing the voices of his own kind, with the African sun on his back, brought us all to tears.”

About Qatar Airways WeQare

Qatar Airways Cargo’s ‘WeQare’ sustainability program has four foundational pillars: environment, society, economy, and culture. They aim to uphold the ecological balance with ‘Chapter 2 – Rewild the Planet’. As part of those efforts, they offer free transport for wild animals to return home. With a keen focus on quality and sustainability, their WeQare initiative aims to make a lasting impact.

About Qatar Airways Cargo:

Based in Doha, State of Qatar, Qatar Airways Cargo is the world’s top international air cargo carrier. The carrier serves over 70 freighter and 160 passenger destinations. Its fleet boasts two Boeing 747-8 freighters, two Boeing 747-400 freighters, 26 Boeing 777 freighters, and an Airbus A310 freighter.

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