Lion Cubs Hold On To All They Know After Being Rescued From War-Torn Gaza

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After spending the first months of their lives under horrific conditions in a refugee camp in the war-torn Gaza Strip, two lion cubs rescued on Sunday were finally able to move into a new species-appropriate habitat in Jordan.

A Gaza resident and father of six, had purchased the cubs named Max and Mona when they were just two months old from Rafah Zoo, which had been damaged by airstrikes and was struggling to keep up financially. Saadi Jamal, who lives in the Rafah refugee camp, had planned to make money by leasing the lions to restaurants, seaside resorts and amusement parks.

Fortunately, British animal welfare group Four Paws stepped into help by facilitating the move. Just last month it was seeking to rescue the cubs from what they called a “hugely inappropriate situation” in which they were growing to be a threat to their surroundings.

Four Paws reportedly spent weeks negotiating for the release of the cubs. This weekend, it happened just in time, traveling through Israel to Jordan. The rescuers say the time the animals spent in the refugee camp took quite a toll – and after just a few months they both developed a skin disease, and the female lion was “weakened and apathetic” in addition to having significant swelling on the back of her head, likely from a stroke.

Clinging together, the young lions who despite their very rough start in life, are said to have a bright future ahead. While they’re currently in a Jordan quarantine center, this fall they’ll be released into a large enclosure at Al Ma’wa Wildlife Sanctuary, where they’ll be able to live life at least a bit closer to what nature intended.

On its website Monday, July 6, Four Paws wrote: “Although the past days have been amoung the hardest of our entire life, we are elated that we could finally fulfill our mission and rescue these two lions.”

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