Footage shared this week by the Rancho dos Gnomos Santuário in Brazil shows the thrilling moment a lion named Will experiences, for the first time, the feeling of soil and grass beneath his feet.
Prior to being rescued and taken to the sanctuary, Will had been forced to perform with a traveling circus. For 13 long years, the lion had been confined to a cramped cage and denied any semblance of a normal existence.
Within seconds of his release, Will can be seen eagerly running his paws through the soft soil — tragically, a foreign material for a creature who, up until then, had known only cold metal floors.
This scene, filmed in 2006 though released this week to the public, was only the beginning. In 2011, Will passed away of old age, but not before finally learning what it meant to be a lion.
“He had five years of tranquility before he died. Here he had the opportunity to interact with other lions. He loved to lie in grass and look at the sky,” sanctuary founder Marcos Pompeo told The Dodo. “He was a very happy lion.”