Lions saved from Syrian and Iraq war safe moved safely to South Africa

27 February 2018 - 16:28 By Nico Gous
Simba and Saeed are two lions that were saved from starvation, diseases and bombs in Iraq and Syria. They were released at the Lionsrock sanctuary outside Bethlehem.
Simba and Saeed are two lions that were saved from starvation, diseases and bombs in Iraq and Syria. They were released at the Lionsrock sanctuary outside Bethlehem.
Image: Daniel Born/Supplied

Their new home is the Lionsrock sanctuary outside Bethlehem in the Free State‚ and will now live alongside about 78 other lions and 100 big cats.

They arrived on Monday after 33 hours of travelling in planes and trucks with the help of animal welfare organisation Four Paws.

Four Paws wants Simba and Saeed to immediately socialise with the other rescued lions in Lionsrock.

“As young big cats feel comfortable in prides‚ we will immediately begin our socialisation project for both lions‚” Four Paws lion expert Barbara van Genne said.

Simba and Saeed were moved from the animal sanctuary Al Ma’wa in Jordan.
Simba and Saeed were moved from the animal sanctuary Al Ma’wa in Jordan.
Image: Daniel Born/Supplied

Simba is about four years old. He was born in the Montazah Al-Morour Zoo in the eastern part of Mosul during the ongoing war in Iraq. A few of the animals managed to escape from their enclosures‚ but most of the 40 animals died of starvation or died in bomb attacks.

Only Simba and a bear named Lula were alive in the zoo when Four Paws got involved in February 2017. They were evacuated in April 2017 and moved to Jordan.

Saeed is about two years old and was born in captivity during the war in Syria. He was rescued in July 2017 along with 12 other animals from the neglected Magic World zoo near Aleppo. The Turkish government helped to evacuate them before transferring them to Jordan in August 2017.

Simba and Saeed lived in the animal sanctuary Al Ma’wa in Jordan‚ but Four Paws decided to move them to South Africa because of their good health.

“We are confident Simba and Saeed will find themselves a pride and a happy ending to their chaotic upbringing‚” Four Paws South Africa director Fiona Miles said.

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