Lions Rescued From Middle East Relocate To South Africa Stronghold

Two African lions have been saved from Syria and Iraq amid a sea of conflict in both countries.

Raad AdaylehAP Images

Two African lions have been recently rescued from Syria and Iraq, nations whose atmospheres are plastered with war. The big cats are now dwelling in a South African fortress called Lion’s Rock.

Christopher Torchia of the Associated Press was among the first to share the news. Torchia reveals that Lion’s Rock is a place that takes care of other animals that have endured rough circumstances.

According to Victor Muisyo of Africanews, the lions have finally found a new home after spending months recovering in Jordan. The respite in Jordan occurred due to unbearable “physical and psychological trauma.”

Muisyo adds that an animal rights organization known as Four Paws International is responsible for making this a reality. Months ago the animals were salvaged from a zoo in Mosul, Iraq, and from Magic World near Syria’s Aleppo.

According to Sam McNeil of the New Jersey Herald, a majority of the animals in those zoos eventually perished because of the fighting.

Torchia’s report says that the Four Paws group reached the Mosul location about a year ago. In the process, they retrieved the only two animals they stumbled upon. The two animals were a bear and a 4-year-old lion, Simba. The other lion, Saeed, was found in July in the Syrian amusement park.

Via what BBC News suggests, two-year-old Saeed’s initial appearance was mind-numbing. He was “skin and bones” upon his arrival in Jordan.

Saeed Caged Before Leaving Jordan
The young Saeed was caged prior to being transported to South Africa.Featured image credit: Raad AdaylehAP Images

McNeil’s report goes on to confirm this. He exemplifies that in both cases the lions were malnourished, dehydrated, and mentally unstable upon getting to the Al-Ma’wa Animal Sanctuary in Jordan.

Thankfully, their pitstop in Jordan proved to be a positive experience. This is fair to say since Simba and Saeed obtained medical attention while there. McNeil mentions that the medical care included vasectomies and dental work.

Moreover, Torchia imparts that the two wildcats were placed on strict diets to ensure weight gain. Lamb is said to have been one of the primary staples of their daily eating habits.

BBC reveals that the lions underwent training for weeks to ready themselves for their extended journey to Lion’s Rock in Johannesburg.

Lion’s Rock is said to be the home of around 80 lions, via the Associated Press. Most of the lions likewise came from zoos from all over the globe.

Part of the reason Simba and Saeed are moving on from Jordan relates to the way the circle of life works. The two lions are certainly at mature enough ages to where they can meet and breed with lionesses, as reported by Muisyo.

McNeil reveals that trainer Saif Rwashdeh is traveling with the cats to their new residence. He will be with them for at least a couple weeks to make sure they get accustomed to the environmental shift.

BBC’s report indicates that the two lions possess very different personalities. According to Diana Bernas, the lead trainer at the Jordan facility, Simba is reserved in nature. Conversely, when the younger Saeed is considered, her description of his temperament is quite different.

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

Despite it being hard to let go, it is a necessary step to take. Stemming from what Torchia’s piece says, Fiona Miles of Four Paws wants more people to take notice of animals in captivity.

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In spite of her hopes, bigger dilemmas exist according to the same report. Africa’s lion population continues to be challenged by virtue of factors such as poaching. Further concerns relate to the demand for lion bones, which can be used for medicinal purposes.

Relative to Simba and Saeed, though, there is an underlying sense of relief that they will be much safer now. BBC got in touch with Miles and she provided the following statement.

“With 78 other lions, we are confident Simba and Saeed will find themselves a pride and a happy ending to their chaotic upbringing,” said Miles.