Free to roam: Moment rescued lions are released into the wildAnimals confiscated from private owner in Serbia who bought them from Belgrade Zoo in 2009Animal welfare charity helped transfer them to South African sanctuary

Three lions being kept by a private owner in Serbia have been confiscated and relocated to a South African wildlife sanctuary.

Ivan, Cornel and Lepa were being held in a private roadside zoo in Novi Pazar after the owner acquired them from Belgrade Zoo in 2009.

A year later, Serbian legislation that prohibits possession of dangerous wild animals came into force.

Four-year-old Ivan and Cornel were among a number of lions released into a wildlife sanctuary in South Africa after being confiscated from a private owner in Serbia

Whiff of fresh air: Four-year-old Ivan and Cornel were among a number of lions released intoa wildlife sanctuary in South Africa

One of the confiscated lions enjoys its new surroundings after being released into the wildlife sanctuary

One of the confiscated lions enjoys its new surroundings after being released into the wildlife sanctuary

The lions were rescued by Four Paws, a London-based international animal rights organization

The lions were rescued by Four Paws, a London-based international animal rights organization

The Serbian CITES management and enforcement authority confiscated the animals and handed to Four Paws Animal Welfare Foundation.

AFour Paws team had travelled to Belgrade on Saturday, taking care of the final preparations for the transfer to Frankfurt Airport.

There, the big cats were loaded onto an plane, which took them to their new home.

FourPaws yesterday released the three lions from Serbia and two tigers fromGermany into Lionsrock Big Cats Sanctuary in South Africa.

Lepa, a three-year-old lioness, yawns inside a private roadside zoo in Novi Pazar, Serbia, before being relocated to South Africa

Lepa, a three-year-old lioness, yawns inside a private roadside zoo in Novi Pazar, Serbia, before being relocated to South Africa

Four Paws International activists and Serbian CITES representatives prepare to transfer Lepa from the private roadside zoo

Four Paws International activists and Serbian CITES representatives prepare to transfer Lepa from the private roadside zoo

The lions arrive in cages at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa

The lions arrive in cages at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa