To add to the problem, it's the middle of winter. "The lions are kept in awfully cold conditions now, 3 small, deteriorated, outdoor cages, concrete floor, no heating and -15 [degrees Celsius, 5 degrees Fahrenheit] in Gyumri," a representative with the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC), one of the groups helping with the rescue efforts, said in an email provided to The Dodo.
But WVS and the rescue coalition need public help to speed along the shelter, which will cost an estimated $67,000 - and to complicate matters, a number of potentially fraudulent fundraising requests have been circulating on the internet, pulling thousands of dollars away from the official efforts.
But time is of the essence, and the facility would be a much-needed respite from the cold cells where the neglected lions have spent their lives - and a place where they can begin to heal while their permits and new homes are being arranged.
Once the lions are safe, the team hopes to use the shelter as a base for ongoing rescue efforts, including addressing Armenia's captive bear problem.
Worldwide Veterinary Service