Success! Lions and Bears Rescued From Gyumri Zoo in Armenia

The plight of three lions, two bears and two guinea pigs, left to die in an abandoned zoo in the Armenian city of Gyumri, was so awful that not one, but three, Care2 members decided to create petitions urging the government of Armenia to rescue them. The owner of the private zoo reportedly had no money for food and lost interest and ability in caring for them.

Here’s how Leigh Smith, outraged by this situation, used her petition to draw awareness to the situation:

“Banging their heads against the wall in despair and peering forlornly through the bars of their tiny, stark cages, these are the inmates of ‘the world’s saddest zoo’. Just three lions, two bears and two guinea pigs live out their boring, hunger-filled days in tiny cages, displaying all the signs of creatures slowly being driven mad by their unnatural existence.

This collection of neglected animals are the remainder of a billionaire’s whim. They were bought as entertainment to be paraded before his friends at jungle-themed parties. However, the billionaire vanished, along with any care for the animals he had bought and caged.”

Success! Abandoned Animals Rescued!

Thankfully, local and international organizations worked together to help find sanctuaries for the neglected animals.

Here’s how the update to Leigh Smith’s Care2 petition reads:

We did it! The bears and lions at an abandoned Armenian zoo have now been rescued. Several charity organizations came to the animals’ aid, including the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, the Armenian Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWCA), and the Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS). The WVS have rescued the three lions and are building a new enclosure where they can live, and the bears are being transferred to the Yerevan Zoo and the Romanian bear sanctuary “Libearty.”

Smith’s petition garnered almost 300,000 signatures, while over 1,400 Care2 members signed this petition, and over 38,000 Care2 activists added their signatures to this petition, making a grand total of over 339,000 people outraged that these animals were abandoned and left to die.

Thank you to the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, the FPWCA in Armenia, the WVS and all the Care2 members who showed support for these dying animals. International Animal Rescue and the Born Free Foundation also played a large role in trying to raise awareness of the zoo’s plight.

An Elderly Couple Tried To Care For The Animals

As Smith wrote in her petition:

“An elderly couple came across the starving animals, and now feeds them on a starvation diet of slaughterhouse scraps and scavenged woodland plants. A spokesman for International Animal Rescue said, ‘The fate of these animals should not be dependent on the philanthropy of an elderly couple who barely have enough for themselves. It is vital that they are moved to a place where they can be better cared for.’”

The Ethics of Zoos 

Let’s face it, the situation for these animals in Armenia was extreme, but zoos are a bad idea, overall. As Care2′s Abigal Geer explains, animals in zoos suffer from insufficient space and abnormal repetitive behavior; surplus animals are killed; animals are taken from the wild; and zoos don’t serve ideals of conservation or education. It is hard to imagine that any creature would enjoy living imprisoned in artificial environments while people gawk at them or cameras flash in their faces.

Thanks to animal activists within the Care2 community IAR, the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, the FPWCA, the WVS, these animals will now be able to live out their days in peace and freedom.

And just like these three petition authors, if you have a cause that is deeply troubling to you, consider starting your own Care2 petition. Use this handy guide to help you get started, and pretty soon you’ll find Care2’s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and support you.



Photo Credit: Screenshot from YouTube video


Nellie K Adaba
Nellie K Adaba2 years ago


Vikki Drew
Vikki Drew2 years ago

So nice to hear some good news! Thank you so much to all involved in rescue; what wonderful people ( there are some good humans after all).
May these beautiful creatures now know some happiness

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Lynn Coetzee
Lynette Coetzee2 years ago

Thank you for saving these precious lives to all involved and to all the charity organizations came to the animals’ aid :-*

Ann Razumovskaya
Ann Razumovskaya2 years ago

Such news is always a pleasure, and I'm very glad to be a part of this victory.

Site Issues RUMBAK
ANA MARIJA R2 years ago

I thank myself for signing this petition & to all involved. This kind of success stories are the most encouraging way to start a new day at 7:4 a.m. :)

Trish K.
Trish K2 years ago

Bought on a whim to showoff to his friends - Thoughtlessly abandoned without food or care - These millionaires really know how to live. Thank you wonderful people on Care2. We make magic happen everyday. We are rich in Spirit and Love.

Natalie V.
Natalie V2 years ago


Inge R.
Inge R2 years ago

I am so happy those beautiful and innocent creatures are safe. Thank you so much to all people involved to do a change!

Jamaka P.
Jamaka P2 years ago

*GRATEFUL PRAYERS* and may these innocent living beings have comfort and caring every second of every day of their lives.