Farewell Iron

We are heartbroken to report the passing of 18-year old Iron one of our circus survivors from Colombia. We always want more time with them, but we understand when a lion’s time has come. Over a few days, Iron stopped eating and Dr Caldwell was called to ADIWS. He sedated Iron and took him into hospital. Sadly, tests revealed that our beloved Iron had aggressive stage 4 lung cancer and there was nothing to be done, we had to let our magnificent warrior go rather than face a painful battle he could not win. A beautiful soul has left us.

We rescued Iron from a circus in Colombia in 2014. The circus pictures of Iron and his lifelong companion OJ (Ojiclaro) illustrated two broken lions. But they were not defeated. They were inseparable and flourished in ADI’s care. OJ was very protective and would watch over his smaller brother, Iron. Their years at ADIWS in their near-8acre Antonia Habitat were the happiest of times, roaming their territory, stalking through the grass and flowers, lying under the trees or inside one of the old farm buildings, or sunning themselves on a platform. They were rarely far apart and their roars would echo around the sanctuary.

In late 2020, OJ developed cancer, but seemed to respond well to chemotherapy and returned to the sanctuary and his friend Iron. The boys enjoyed a few last, precious months together in the sunshine before OJ sadly passed away in 2021.

Last year, with the pandemic over and the sanctuary back to full strength, we began the process of reintroducing Iron to Bumba, who is from the same circus, but had lost his friends Zeus and Junior to cancer.

With two older lions we knew it could be a long process. The boys rotated in the same territory, ate next door to each other and were given treats and toys alongside each other. They were relaxed and peaceful, were communicating, but did not develop a close bond.

Perhaps in the past weeks Iron began to realise something was wrong and a lion’s natural instinct is always to conceal any weakness, so he did not bond. But most likely, Iron and Bumba simply didn’t feel any need to move on from their soul mates, OJ and Zeus.

Yesterday marked almost two years to the day that dear OJ passed away, and now his lifelong friend has joined him. Two incredible lions who faced conditions in the circus that would have broken the spirit of any of us, but did not break them, and they enjoyed their final years in the land of their ancestors.

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