The ongoing uncertainty of Brexit is threatening the final chapter of a complex rescue and rehabilitation effort for two lions who were due to be re-homed here at the Isle of Wight Zoo early this year.
Previously forced to perform in a circus, the two 5 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 us before import laws, uncertain due to Brexit 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.
"With all sorts of industries racing to import and export goods prior to the official Brexit theres a very real chance that we cant find or afford a way to get Vigo and Kumba to us before 29th March. After that, our worry is how the transport of animals will be affected by post Brexit customs arrangements. 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 not something we can risk when transporting big cats."
Here at the Zoo, we had planned on building fit for purpose accommodation for the lions, but there is an enclosure that can be retrofitted in the short term, in order to allow us to bring the lions over sooner. We would really like some help in order to allow us to do this.
"Were doing everything we can to give these lions a more certain future and are hoping the next few days and weeks see us raising enough to afford both the accommodation improvements and the transport in time to avoid Brexit stranding them in Europe for an unknown time" says Veronica.
Previously housed in a lorry, containing 5 big cats and travelling Europe with a circus Vigo and Kumba have had a rough start. But despite this they are gentle giants and we are already in love with them. When Caz visited them late last year they were incredibly playful and very interested in people. We know we can give them the forever home they need and we are desperate to ensure that Brexit does not ruin this for them .