By Jamie Leary

KEENESBURG, Colo. (CBS4) – A lion and tiger rescued from a zoo in Saipan are making progress just months into their rehabilitation.

Lambert the lion and Tasha the tiger lived in small enclosures away from other animals their entire lives. When Super Typhoon Yutu hit the Philippines, it caused massive destruction.

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(credit: CBS)

The two lucky cats hitched a ride on DC-8 belonging to Samaritan’s Purse and were brought to the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keensburg.

CBS4 met them the day after they arrived. They were malnourished and underweight.

On Wednesday, we had the chance to check in on the pair to see how they were doing.

“His fur has definitely got a lot better. A lot of the grease and grime from living on the concrete and in his own feces and urine is all off,” Casey Craig, Chief Operating Officer of the Wild Animal Sanctuary, said.

Casey Craig speaks with CBS4’s Jamie Leary credit: CBS)

Craig was part of the rescue and formed a bond with both Tasha and Lambert. For Lambert, that bond will soon change because Lambert found a girlfriend. Her name is India.

“They did great through the fence all the right signs and everything so then we slowly started introducing them.”

Not long after his rescue, Lambert was moved to an indoor/outdoor pen adjacent to other lions and quickly made friends.

“Being able to see them, hear them, see them through the fence, was a huge improvement for him and especially now that he’s paired.”

Lambert is mentally doing well not only due to the social aspect but he is no longer in pain.

(credit: CBS)

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“For an older cat like him, he had arthritis just from being on the concrete as well as the bad declaw job so we have him on some pain management medication which has helped tremendously for the physical wellbeing.”

For Tasha the tiger, the new scene is taking more adjusting. When she was introduced to other tigers, she was too nervous to interact. A result of living alone her entire life.

“The long term goal is to get her out into a habitat, hopefully, find at least a male that she might be able to co-exist with, maybe possibly more than that.”

Currently, she resides in her own enclosure with about 20 thousand square feet of space to stretch.

“We’ve got heat lamps installed in here for her and so she’s got this entire pen to herself.”

(credit: CBS)

Lambert has made so much progress, he will soon meet his next potential roommate.

“Within the next week or so, we’re about to introduce a third. A year-and-a-half old female with Lambert and India and see how she does.”

While there are no mating pairs, the goal is to give them as close to a normal as possible so they can have the freedom they missed while in captivity.

Eventually, the hope is that both Lambert and Tasha will be placed with on habitat upwards of 20 acres with other cats.

(credit: CBS)

There are more than 90 lions and 60 tigers who reside at the Wild Animal Sanctuary.

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Visitors have a chance to see them all, including Tasha and Lambert. The sanctuary is open to the public from 9AM to sunset, 7 days a week.

Jamie Leary