ASUNCION, Paraguay – Imagine being stuck in a cage for two months while going through customs.
In the middle of this uncertainty, a love story comes out.
It's been 15 long years of solitary confinement for Rubio, the only African lion in the Asuncion zoo. But he's got the pick of the females in a pride of lions now that a group of circus cats has been stranded in Paraguay.
The nine lions and seven Bengal tigers were part of a traveling Argentine circus until Paraguay banned live-animal performances at circuses. Then, paperwork problems prevented their re-entry to Argentina, and they were stranded at the border for two months before an Associated Press story brought global attention to their plight.
After inquiries from The Associated Press on Friday about the cats' plight, Estela Gomez, director of Paraguay's wildlife agency said her ministry decided to move the big cats two by two to the Asuncion zoo, "so that they can live in some comfort and not in a strange area."
"In the next few days we will continue investigating the true reasons why the Argentine authorities aren't authorizing their return," she said. "I can't anticipate whether these beasts will remain forever in Paraguay or eventually go to Argentina."
Now they're at the Asuncion zoo, where Rubio has gone solo for 15 years since his last mate died. Local politicians said Tuesday they hope to keep one of the female lions to be his mate.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.