Left alone in an abandoned zoo after its owner passed away, the "world's loneliest lion' has been returned to the wild.
Ruben, the 15-year-old lion trapped in a concrete cell for five years by an owner whose death isolated the animal, has finally been returned to his natural habitat.
Other animals were relocated at the time of the unnamed owner's passing, although Animal Defenders International has stated it took a tad longer to rehome Ruben.
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A 5,200-mile journey has since been a success and Ruben has a second shot at a life in the wild, being taken from their concrete cage in Armenia to the fields of Free State, South Africa.
Ruben will remain in the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary, whose president was left in "tears" after the animal finally made its way to greener pastures.
President Jan Creamer said seeing Ruben take their first steps in the wild was a moment which brought those present "to tears".
She said: "Lions are the most sociable of the big cats, living in family prides in the wild. So it must have been devastating for Ruben to have no contact or communication with other lions.
"Seeing him 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."
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Suffering from malnutrition and lack of exercise, a wobbly-looking Ruben managed to begin improving over a short while, with the area having an impact on his behaviour.
President Creamer added: "His whole demeanour has transformed, his face is relaxed and no longer fearful. His determination to walk is inspiring.
"If he stumbles or falls, he just picks himself up and keeps going. He is nothing short of heroic.
"We know this will be a long road and will require ongoing veterinary treatment, but the start of his new life could not have been better."
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