Despite facing several challenges, Leo and Moneca remained a devoted couple and stood by each other until the end.
Animal Defenders International (ADI) rescued Leo, Moneca, and their children from a circus in Peru in 2014, where living conditions were not suitable for lions.
Research shows that lions and other animals used in circuses for entertainment are subjected to cruel treatment, including being threatened with whips, sticks, and even tazers, which is not enjoyable or exciting for them.
For Leo and his family members, being rescued was an experience that surpassed their wildest dreams.
Leo and Moneca faced many challenges on their journey to freedom. During ADI’s first rescue attempt, Leo and his sons – Chino, Coco, and Rolex – were fortunate enough to be rescued, but the circus intervened and halted the operation before going into hiding.
As a result of this unfortunate incident, Leo and Moneca were separated for several months without any means of communication, a truly disheartening turn of events.
Fortunately, Leo’s mate Moneca and their daughters, Africa and Kiara, were discovered six months later, 600 miles away!
Since their heartwarming reunion, Leo, Moneca, and their offspring have spent all their time together, exploring and resting in their four-acre habitat as a family.
In August, Moneca fell ill and it was Leo who first noticed, showering her with extra attention and becoming more protective and supportive of her. “Leo has always watched over Moñeca, but when she became unwell, he clearly realized something was wrong,” Jan Creamer, president of ADI said.
Like any devoted husband, Leo provided comfort to Moneca by cuddling with her and encouraging her to eat. Throughout her illness, Leo remained by her side, offering non-stop cuddles. Cuddling is known to enhance the bond and intimacy between lion pairs, and Leo and Moneca were no exception. They had cuddled multiple times during their courtship years.
Regrettably, Muneca, who had reached the age of 19, passed away in September, leaving Leo undoubtedly exhausted and bereaved.
In the wake of his beloved wife’s passing, Leo’s caregivers provided him with extra care and attention to aid in his recovery from the loss.
Although this is a sorrowful tale with a melancholic conclusion, it is touching and uplifting to witness the depth of a lion’s love for his mate, and Leo’s devotion to Muneca will undoubtedly remain etched in our hearts.