Animal activists rescued a five-week-old lion cub that was living on the balcony of a downtown apartment in Beirut, Lebanon. The cub is part of a growing number of exotic animals being smuggled into Lebanon to be kept as private pets.
Animals Lebanon, a leading organization that works to protect animals through legislation, education and rescue is working with the government to restrict the trade of lions into the country.
“The keeping of lions as pets has drastically increased in the last two years, and we regularly receive reports about new cubs,” said Lana El-Khalil, President of Animals Lebanon. “Within the first couple of months of life a lion becomes too large and strong to be kept in a house, only to end up locked in a backyard cage or sold to a private zoo.”
The rescued cub is one of the lucky ones. It will be sent to Drakenstein Lion Park which is an animal sanctuary in South Africa. The cub will share a home with lions that have come from similar circumstances.
Animals Lebanon explained that it has become very easy for private buyers to acquire a lion cub. Zoos in nearby Syria offer newborn cubs for as little as $350 each. Zoo owners in Lebanon then smuggle the animals into the country for the buyers.
“One zoo owner in Lebanon reported bringing in eight lions from Syria, and admitted that they all died within weeks as they were too young,” said El-Khalil.
The cubs who survive the journey are often at risk for diseases, malnutrition and death because most owners do not understand how to properly care for them.
If all goes well, the little cub in this video will soon be on its way to a better life.
Photo courtesy of Animals Lebanon