For over a year, Ivan-Asen had been kept in a dark room measuring only about 10 square feet. "It is really a small night room with no access to light," Gechev said. He asked the lion keeper to let Ivan-Asen go outside for a bit, which they did after moving the other lions into other enclosures.
"As soon as Ivan-Asen went out, he ran to the fence to the next enclosure, where his parents were, and laid on the ground against the fence," Gechev said. "His mother Raya came to him and started to stroke and lick him through the bars. It was almost as if she was reassuring him.”