THREE lions that were dramatically rescued from abysmal conditions have now been welcomed to their new home.

Vets from East Dorset's Worldwide Veterinary Service flew to Armenia to save the lives of the three lions which were found emaciated and allegedly abandoned on land belonging to a billionaire.

The mother and two daughters had been kept alive, but only barely, by a generous older couple.

Mery, Zita and Gita are now the proud first inhabitants of a purpose-built enclosure at the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge in Armenia.

It was only by chance that WVS workers, based in Cranborne, found out about the lions at Gyumri Zoo - coined in the media as the 'world's saddest zoo'.

But they are now happy and healthy at their new enclosure which was built using funds raised by the WVS, associated charities and individual fundraisers.

They have also had help from the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets.

The lionesses' new home - the Wildlife Rescue Centre - is based in an area of abundant wildlife, including brown bears, lynx and wolves. Its aim is that it will become a refuge for wounded animals that populate the surrounding mountains.

Each animal will be medically assessed and treated and eventually returned to the wild or to a sanctuary, depending on its needs.

WVS marketing manager, Emma Harrison, said: “The new Wildlife Rescue Centre at the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge in Armenia is a fantastic achievement and WVS are thrilled that this will now be used as a dedicated refuge for bears, wolves and more that require veterinary treatment.

"Whilst the new Wildlife Rescue Centre is now built, WVS will require ongoing donations to help support our work so that we can rescue and treat animals that desperately need our help. Ultimately, our Wildlife Rescue Centre will create a long term legacy for the future of Armenian wildlife.

"This is a reflection of the close partnership between WVS and FPWC where we are actively working together towards in-situ conservation, animal rehabilitation and rescue initiatives in Armenia."

Visit to find out more about the charity's appeal.