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KIVU the lion and why we should never forget him.

Lion Kivu gazing intently, a symbol of the wild at the Costa Rica sanctuary

Who was KIVU?

Portrait of KIVU the Lion of Zooave Costa Rica

Because of This Story our Restarant is called ”KIVU“

Kivu was a lion born in Cuba in 1998 and later transferred to Simón Bolívar, the National Zoo of Costa Rica, when he was just 6 months old. He became a public spectacle, living in a 720 sq. ft. cage made only of cement and steel, offering no chance to escape the stares and taunts of visitors. Over time, due to his poor diet and living conditions, Kivu became emaciated and developed chronic kidney failure.


As the country witnessed Kivu‘s declining health, public consciousness began to stir. A significant controversy arose, and in 2016, due to public pressure, the government of Costa Rica rescued Kivu and moved him to Rescate Animal Zooave. In this rescue center, Kivu enjoyed life in a 3,500 sq. ft. off-exhibit natural habitat, complete with abundant trees, logs, grass, and other natural features. He spent his final days basking in the sunshine, tearing apart logs, and chasing birds and other small creatures that dared to enter his new territory.

Sadly, despite efforts by experts from around the world to improve his health, Kivu passed away peacefully on February 17th, 2017. He is deeply missed by the entire country and the staff of Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center – Zoave.

Would you like to help? Donate and help us saving the big cats like KIVU here!

Are you interested in more Information about KIVU and his former story?
You can also check out these websites who wrote articles about him:

Tico Times – Kivu lion finds a new home

Tico Times – Kivu lion dies at 18

earth in transition – Costa Rica shuts down its Zoos

Would you like to get involved yourself?

Become an Intern and have a unique wildlife experience.

Veterinary Internship

Veterinary interns work directly with our highly experienced veterinarian and our rehabilitation staff. You will assist with with animal intakes, exams, treatments, surgeries, feeding and record keeping.

Wildlife Internship​

Work hands-on in the Lifetime Care Sanctuary, Endangered Species Breeding Center and the Rescue Center, feeding animals, conducting behavioral research, and creating enriching experiences for our non-releasable animals or even clicker train our Jaguar „Guapo“.

Road to freedom Internship

This internship gives you the unique opportunity to not only see, but to play an active part in what we call: The Road to Freedom. Aid the animals in their release, monitor and research them and their second chance at life in the wild, the final step on their Road to Freedom.

Alajuela, COSTA RICA