BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 29 Jan '19

Brexit threatens to make lion rescue a ‘no deal’

Ongoing uncertainty around Brexit is threatening the final chapter of a complex rescue and rehabilitation effort for two lions due to be re-homed at the Isle of Wight Zoo in Hampshire.

Previously forced to perform in a circus, the two five-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, which could thwart plans.

‘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’, said Veronica Chrisp, chief executive of The Wildheart Trust, which operates the zoo as part of its wildlife charity work.

Brexit and animal transport

As industries race to import and export goods prior to the official Brexit, Victoria says ‘there’s a very real chance’ there won’t be a realistic or affordable way to get Vigo and Kumba here before 29 March.

‘After that, our worry is how the transport of animals will be affected by post-Brexit customs arrangements’, Veronica adds. ‘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.’

VERONICA CHRISP
Chief executive of The Wildheart Trust

Click here if you’d like to help with the fundraising effort to re-home Kumba and Vigo.