A Tragic Story of One Soviet Family Having Three Lions as Pets

A Tragic Story of One Soviet Family Having Three Lions as Pets

In 1970s there was a family in Soviet Union which was keeping real lions as home pets in their small apartment in Baku city (now Azerbaijan). The head of the family – his name, ironically, was Leo (or Lion in Russian) was a normal Soviet architect, then one day he has got a lion cub from the zoo. The little lion has been rejected by his mom-lioness and people of the zoo lost a hope to bring him up.

So Leo has kept a cub for himself. This was a beginning of a long happy story with a really tragic ending. And this is not what you probably think happened. We have this story inside so let’s read on:


A Tragic Story of One Soviet Family Having Three Lions as Pets

He has succeeded in feeding a lion. The animal started to grow, right in the family apartment of Leo. It was a normal family of four – Leo, his wife, and two their kids.


A Tragic Story of One Soviet Family Having Three Lions as Pets

The lion has been growing and was totally peaceful towards people. In less than one year it turned to a full grown animal with a huge hair mane.



They called him “King” and they were saying that his temper was of a noble one.

They once tried to bring him back to the zoo, but the animal got really mad on the way there, jumping in the car. The workers of the zoo told the family that they never could part with the animal now, because he too got used to them. Just like a normal cat. So they had to keep it.



Leo’s wife, Nina, was telling that: “The young lion was loving my husband a lot. And was treating me gentle, as a woman. But with a time some other feelings towards me arouse in the animal. He started to sleep between us on our bed and was often pushing my husband out of the bed. He probably was jealous.”



Their family friend who visited them often recalls this: “The King was a really kind animal. They took him as a very little one, and his front paws were paralyzed. The family was massaging his paws non-stop until he started walking. And he behaved like a normal cat. The only problem – he was fond of licking guests. And his tongue was like a real sand paper. But if you hush him a little he would run away into the corner or on the top shelf which was his nest.”.



Their neighbors however were not so happy about the lion living in their apartment block. They complained on the smell and also on the roars that from time to time they have heard, sometimes even at night. Also meeting a 400 pound lion in the hallway or in the elevator was not too exciting for them, obviously.



The woman also told that they were putting the stainless steel nets on the balcony so that the lion couldn’t escape from their second floor apartment and then they were letting it walk freely around the place. “If he was too bored he just arrived to our bed, climbed on it, pushed out of the bed me or my husband and went to sleep till the next morning. Also kids were doing everything they wanted with him – rode him as a pony, were pulling his whiskers off etc – he never replied with anger”.



After some time as more and more people were learning about such an exotic pet, they started getting offers from the movie makers to use their pet for filming. So they started bring the animal to the set and soon it participated in a few very popular Soviet flicks. This allowed the family to travel a lot, to get acquainted with some famous people such as movie stars and famous directors and of course to earn some extra income which helped them keeping an animal. However this business had a tragical ending.


One day the family arrived for another shooting in St. Petersburg city. They kept the lion in the school at nights, that was his a hotel for the time being. The movie people were trying be precautions: a special loudspeaker equipped car was circling around neighborhood and announcing that there is a lion in the school, so avoid walking around. And it all went fine, until one local student, who have heard the rumors about the lion went to see what it all was about, together with his girlfriend. They arrived to the school and the guy went inside the territory. He then spotted a lion in the window who was overlooking the street. The student started play the ape behind the lion – showing him funny faces and then turning his back to the lion and bending down. Nina says that at that time the lion was staying with their assistant Sasha, who exactly in this moment went away to get some snack or pack of cigarettes from a store. Earlier those days they were training a lion for a scene in the movie when people play the ape for him and then he runs on them and puts his paws on their shoulders. Then he had to  walk away – according to the screen play. So this time the lion was already trained – he pushed the window glass and ran on to the dude. The dude was scared to the ground, so was his girlfriend waiting outside. She became shouting “Help!Help! Lion is tearing up my boy!”. Same moment there was a policeman walking back from his job. He has heard the shouting girlfriend and ran to them. When he saw a student on the ground and the lion above him he started shooting.



Sadly they couldn’t save the lion.



The whole family was sad. Even their dog. They say that in fact the dog has suffered the most from the missing lion. When the family has returned home and brought the things of the lion – his leash, his boxes etc. the dog, Chap, was running around and searching for the lion. When he finally understood that the lion won’t come, he climbed in one of his boxes and refused to leave. Day after he died from a heart attack as they were told by a local vet.

Nina said that kids were very sad too. “They were waking up at night shouting King! King! Don’t leave us alone!”. So guess what? The family decided to take another lion!



The new lion was a new story. Nina was saying that she was against this idea. But nobody listened to her. “That King I, the first lion, was grateful for us that we saved him from the death, massaged his paws, fed him and kept him warm, so he was paying us back with respect. The new King II was not saved by us, so he was demanding that we would respect him instead”.



Besides a King II lion the family got at around same time a mountain lion.



The new King was also participating in the movies. However this new lion was much more aggressive and there were already a few incidents on the set. First, he has bitten in the leg the director who wanted to force the lion to jump into the cold sea water. We know that cats don’t like the water, don’t we?

The second occasion was when an assistant of cameraman was swinging something too fast before King II’s face. He paid for this with his finger.



However thing swede going pretty nice inside the family. The lion was very friendly with the people, especially he respected the Leo – head of the family was probably head of his pack. Looked like Nina was wrong with her bad feelings towards the new animal.



However, she was not. In 1978 Leo dies from a heart attack. The woman with two kids is now left alone with a giant lion and a smaller mountain lion – the puma. She panicked and wanted to give away the animals to the Berlin’s zoo in Eastern Germany. They almost got it thru but then it didn’t happen.

Nina recalls: “After the husband’s death it was too hard for me to keep it up. However in the beginning the lion was pretty respectful to me, but he missed a lot his master, Leo. He was finding his things and laying down on them, was searching for Leo in the apartment.”.


One day in 1980 the woman came back from work home. She noticed that there was some strange smoke in the apartment. The lion was roaring and angry, the puma was sitting on the sofa. She went on the balcony and noticed that their neighbor, a drunk alcoholic was burning something and throwing some this burning stuff onto the lion. Woman quarreled with a neighbor, closed the balcony and went back inside. The lion was still nervous. He went on his top shelf, his nest. Then her fourteen year old son has came back home. The woman started giving him a meal and slicing meat for the lion. Then suddenly lion has felt down from his top shelf on his back. This probably hurt him a lot, so he roared and attacked a woman. Her son tried to stop the animal, grabbed him by the leash but the lion has killed him.  The woman passed out.

When she got back to conscience the lion was already dead. The neighbors has called the police which climbed inside the windows and shot the animals.

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13 thoughts on “A Tragic Story of One Soviet Family Having Three Lions as Pets”

  1. Ultimately it was neighbors fault. If he hadnt aggravated the animal it probably wouldnt be so furious to fall off the shelf and attack the woman.

  2. That’s the thing – probably. You never know with animals how they may react to surroundings. You may expect some things, the regular behaviour, but you cannot know for sure.

  3. I knew a guy in Rhodesia, he had 3 lions, but on a farm. He never had any trouble with the terrorists. The rule was never turn your back and never run. But even on a farm out in the open the smell was really bad. That must have been absolutely terrible in a flat.

  4. “Ultimately it was neighbors fault. If he hadnt aggravated the animal it probably wouldnt be so furious to fall off the shelf and attack the woman.”

    Certainly was.

  5. well it was very strange and nice story, but yeah if you are keeping a giant beast which cant be hold by few peoples even, you need to keep them away from everyone very isolated or know him very well. and always be cautious he can kill you even if he dont know how to kill you.

  6. The woman was right about her bad feelings towards the new lion. The first lion was saved from them, beautiful story. But the other one was on a flat just to satisfy the family when they miss the lion pet of them. Obviously this was going to end in a bad way…

  7. THIS STORY IS A W ARNING TO EVERY ONE ! WILD ANIMALS CANNOT BE DOMESTICATED ! I have Know two Dozen instances where this has been tried on TWO DOZEN different Animals! If U think U can do it- u just fooling yourself ! It will end in a disaster for u and/or the Animal!!

  8. This was amazing (and sad end) story thanks for sharing with us! If the neighbour is not acting that way maybe nothing happened. the tragedy was partly his fault.

  9. I do believe all of the concepts you’ve offered to your post. They are really convincing and can definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are too quick for novices. May you please lengthen them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.

  10. We shall not keep such animals as domestic animals because they are unpredictable and very dangerous to have in the same enclosure with humans. Keeping them in the zoo could have been helpful for both the animal and those killed.

  11. Geez. The first lion was the couple’s fault. and the second one is neighbour’s fault. This is not the family fault but rather the outsider’s fault. Great.

  12. Women rased the first lion like her children and also the family has great bont towards lion .But out side couple made blunder mistake for which this gamily paid the price .They lost gentle first lion and their pet dog.In the second insistent it was neibour s blender mistake again this family paid the prise they lost loving son. At last no one knows the condition of that lovely and good women after she lost her Husband, gentle first lion , her pet dog , and finally her loving son.May God bless her .

  13. Stupid nonsend, it is not the neighbours fault, it is the lion owners fault of course who don’t respect that lions live in the wild not in a flat, and they of course never respected neighbors, because they think that animals are more important than humans, of course you know nothing about that because probably you are not religious and follow devils ideas, devil hates humans and they want animals to be more important than them, lion roaring alone violates every neighbour right, why are you thinking like gays?

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