Lion touches grass with his paws for the first time

A lion that had been locked in a tiny, filthy cage for thirteen years, was let out. He touched fresh earth and grass for the first time in his life. His first move upon sensing the soil below was to paw at it and dig in with his claws in pure pleasure.

In the video footage released by the sanctuary (below), you can see him scampering around in his new enclosure, savouring the opportunity to claw at the soil and tear it up.

The scene was filmed nine years ago (2006), but only emerged earlier this month. Sadly, Will died in 2011.

At least he spent his last five years enjoying the sensation of grass and earth under his paws.

Will clawing at the earth

The first thing Will did was to claw at the earth and grass with his paws. (Image:

A very happy lion

The sanctuary’s founder, Marco Pompeo, said:

“Here he had the opportunity to interact with other lions. He loved to lie in grass and look at the sky. He was a very happy lion.”

The lion, named Will, after more than a decade of ultra-restricted mobility and being forced to perform in a travelling circus, was moved to the Ranch of Gnomes Ecological Sanctuary (Santuário Ecológico Rancho Dos Gnomos) in Brazil.


The sanctuary wrote on its website (translated):

“To date, the video we posted on our Youtube channel now has more than 1 million 200 thousand views. In the video posted on our Facebook page are 415,000 views, and more than 1 million people have also seen it.”

Will in a cage

Thirteen years in a small cage left Will with some physical and psychological problems. (Image:

After watching Will’s video, many people have written to the Sanctuary asking why he was not sent back to the wild. Sanctuary staff pointed out that he was born in captivity (the circus), was already middle-aged when they got him, and would not have survived in the wild – not even in an African reserve.

Will’s years of maltreatment had left him with many physical and psychological problems.

The Sanctuary wrote:

“Will was born in Brazil. We did everything possible for him to have a peaceful life, where he could live with some dignity.”

The Sanctuary is currently seeking donations for its “Animal Sanctuary Campaign”.

Video – Will’s paws touch earth for the first time