Home World Rescued 'pet' lions start new life in Africa

Rescued 'pet' lions start new life in Africa

They were illegally bought as status symbols to flaunt like fashion accessories and then cruelly dumped in the desert when no longer cute cubs.

Known as the “Kuwait 6”, these young lions symbolise a £16billion global trade boosted by irresponsible social media posts featuring people petting and “playing” with big cats.

But having been rescued from starvation they are starting a new life at a South African wildlife sanctuary.

Males Muheeb, Saham, Shujaa, Saif, and females Dhubiya and Aziza were saved by volunteers at Kuwait Zoo.

The two younger cubs, Dhubiya and Saif, were found close to death and had to be nursed back to health at the Zoo.

Now Animal Defenders Inter-national, which has offices in the UK, has given them a home at its 455-acre ADI Wildlife Sanctuary in Winburg, South Africa.

A special cargo flight was donated for the mercy mission by Qatar Airways Cargo as part of their WeQare scheme, which took the lions from Kuwait to Qatar and then South Africa.

Throughout the relocation operation, renowned wildlife veterinarian Dr Peter Caldwell monitored the lions, including during their sedation for loading into travel crates. During the flight the lions were fed and watered by ADI’s Jan Creamer and Tim Phillips.

The lions were initially let into their night houses at the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary in Free State and have now been released into quarantine enclosures where they are playing with catnip punchbags and giant balls. After two weeks in quarantine, they will be released into individual large natural enclosures of up to 4 acres.

Now the six big cats spend their days basking in the sunshine and playing with catnip punchbags and giant balls.

Ms Creamer, ADI’s president, said: “In this cruel business, cubs are taken from their mothers when young and cute, leaving them lonely and dependent on their captor for food and attention.

“They are kept in isolation including being chained or caged in basements.

“This is great news for these lions but also a warning about a cruel and irresponsible trade. Lions should never be kept as pets, they are wild animals.

“Seeing these lions playing as they start their new lives is magical but also a reminder of how much work needs to be done to defeat the wildlife traffickers.”

* To find out more and help care for the Kuwait 6 lions visit: https://adiwildlifesanctuary.org.za.


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