Qatar Airways Cargo transported a lion from an abandoned Armenian zoo to a rehabilitation centre in South Africa.
The lion, Ruben, was left behind for five years when a private zoo closed down in Armenia, and transporting the lion proved challenging when the Animals Defenders International (ADI) could not find a suitable flight for him out of Armenia.
ADI then teamed up with Qatar Airways Cargo — through its WeQare program to fly the lion 5,200 miles to his new home at the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary.
"We are committed to preserving wildlife and endangered species, that is why we launched our WeQare Chapter 2 initiative: 'Rewild the Planet' back in 2020. We pledged to return wildlife and endangered species back to their natural habitat, free of charge, and we will continue to do so," said Elisabeth Oudkerk, SVP of Cargo Sales & Network Planning at Qatar Airways Cargo.
"When ADI approached us and explained the sad story of Ruben, we immediately knew we had to help them."
Oudkerk noted that there were a lot of logistics involved in moving animals like Ruben, from the logistics at the airports involved to the process for loading and unloading the animals from the aircraft to ensuring the correct cages and wellbeing of the animals are in place.
"It takes a lot of effort from our team to organise such transport — but it is something we are all collectively very proud to be a part of, knowing we helped give back to our planet," she said.
Jan Creamer, president of ADI added: "Ruben was really in trouble until Qatar Airways Cargo stepped up."
"ADI had been funding his care in Armenia since December, and when we could find no flights for him, we feared he could be stuck there."
"Then Qatar Airways Cargo 'WeQare' initiative stepped in, moving a larger aircraft with hold doors big enough for Ruben's crate into the scheduled passenger route out of Yervan. We are so thankful to Qatar Airways Cargo for all their support in helping get Ruben to South Africa."
Qatar Airways Cargo's WeQare sustainability programme consists of a series of focus chapters based on four core pillars: environment, society, economy, and culture.
Chapter 2 of the initiative — "Rewild the Planet", encourages the preservation of ecological balance by offering free transport to organisations involved in returning wild animals to their natural habitat.