Two African lions rescued from abandoned zoos in war-torn Iraq and Syria moved to their new home in South Africa

Simba rescued from private zoo in Mosul

After months of rehabilitation in Jordan, Simba and Saeed arrived safely at Lion’s Rock, a big cat sanctuary in South Africa’s Free State province.

The young lions were picked up last year from the conflict-ravaged cities of Mosul and Aleppo.

The rescued lions were trained for weeks in preparation for their un-sedated, 33-hour journey by plane and truck to the 1,250 hectare sanctuary.

Four year old Simba was one of two animals found still alive despite appalling conditions in a private zoo in Mosul last February. Most of the others died of starvation or were killed by bombs.

Diana Bernas, head animal keeper at al-Ma’wa Animal Sanctuary in Jordan, told the BBC, “He’s witnessed a lot of trauma in Iraq. Simba was very shy when he first came to the sanctuary; he likes to sit at the back until he figures everyone out.”

Two year old Saeed, on the other hand, “is a happy-go-lucky guy, so a gem of a lion,” she said. “His name means happy in Arabic, so it’s bittersweet to let him go.”

See: 04.23.2017 Last survivors at Iraqi zoo rescued and
08.06.2017 Lions, Tigers and Bears rescued from war-torn Aleppo

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