Leo, Moneca and their children were rescued from a circus in Peru by Animal Defenders International (ADI). The circus is not the friendliest place for a lion.
However, the journey was not a smooth one for Leo and Moneca. Leo and his sons, Chino, Coco and Rolex, were the lucky ones during ADI’s first attempt to rescue the family. In the middle of the rescue, the circus retaliated and blocked the rescue, then fled.
Because of this tragic event, Leo and Moneca were separated for months without any communication. A sad turn of events!
Fortunately for Leo, Moneka and their daughters, Afrika and Kiara, were found six months later, 600 miles from home!
After their sweet and happy reunion, they spent every moment together as a family: walking their 4 acres of habitat together and sleeping together.
Leo paid more attention to Moneca and was the first to notice when she got sick in August. He became more protective and supportive of her.
«Leo was always looking out for Moneca, but when she got sick, he obviously knew something was wrong,» says Jen Creamer, president of ADI.
Like any caring husband would take care of his wife, Leo clung to Monica to provide her with a source of comfort and even coaxed her to eat. Leo never left her side; he was seen hugging her nonstop.
Hugging has been proven to increase the level of intimacy and bonding that exists between lion pairs. Leo and Moneca were no exception, as they hugged many times over the years of courtship!
Unfortunately for Leo, Moneca, who was already 19 years old, passed away in September. We can only imagine how difficult this was for him.
All the while, Leo’s caregivers were making sure he received extra attention to help him recover from the loss of his dear wife.