2 Lions Rescued From Abandoned Zoos in Syria and Iraq Head to a Sanctuary

Thanks to the heroic actions of rescuers, two lions who were abandoned to die in zoos in war torn countries are now starting new lives at a sanctuary in South Africa.

Four-year-old Simba and two-year-old Saeed have each had rough starts and have experienced the devastation of war, but their plights caught the attention of rescuers from Four Paws International who stepped in to save them.

Simba was one of only two surviving animals left at the Montazah Al-Morour zoo in Iraq, which was left in ruins as a result of armed conflict. Dozens of animals who were kept there tragically died, either as a result of bombings or being left to starve, while others escaped when their enclosures were damaged.

By the time rescuers got permission to enter the city to check on him, and Lula the bear, they were both suffering from malnutrition, and numerous other health issues stemming from neglect, while their enclosures hadn’t been cleaned for months. After repeated delays kept them from removing Simba and Lula, the two were finally flown to safety in Jordan last summer.

After that mission, attention was turned to animals who had been abandoned at the Aalim al-Sahar zoo, or Magic World, near the Syrian city of Aleppo, where Saeed was one of a group of 13 animals who also successfully rescued last summer.

Do you remember Simba and Saeed, the two lions rescued from war-torn zoos in Mosul and Aleppo last year?


Posted by FOUR PAWS on Thursday, February 22, 2018

Despite their traumatic pasts and the poor health they were found in, the care they received at their temporary home at the Al-Ma’wa Animal Sanctuary in Jordan has helped them recover.

Now their rescuers are celebrating the next step in their journey, which will take them to their forever home at a big cat sanctuary in South Africa, where dozens of others like them have found refuge from zoos, circuses and South Africa’s own canned hunting industry.

“Simba and Saeed had a difficult start to life but thanks to the tireless efforts of the animal caretakers and vets involved, the health of the two lions has improved enormously,” said Four Paws’ Big Cat Expert, Barbara van Genne. “They are now ready to begin a new chapter at our big cat sanctuary LIONSROCK. There, we have the chance to bring Simba and Saeed together with other rescued lions. We will immediately begin our socialization project for both lions, as young lions feel comfortable in prides.”

After a long trip, the pair arrived safely on Monday and have since been released into new enclosures, while concerns about how the two would react in their new home were quickly put to rest.

🎉 Here it is! Watch the very emotional video about the whole transfer of the two lions, Simba and Saeed, rescued from…

Posted by FOUR PAWS on Wednesday, February 28, 2018

“As soon as the crate was opened, they ran out and sniffed the air… and the other lions roared,” said Fiona Miles, Four Paws South Africa director. “It was really wonderful to see, they’re all settling in very well.”

“With 78 other lions (at the new sanctuary) we are confident Simba and Saeed will find themselves a pride and a happy ending to their chaotic upbringing,” she added.

What a relaxing first morning for Simba and Saeed, they arrived yesterday and are already settling in well. A huge…

Posted by LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary & Lodge on Tuesday, February 27, 2018

For more updates and ways to help, check out Four Paws International.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.


Carole R
Carole R3 months ago

Wonderful news. What a sweet picture.

Marie W
Marie W3 months ago

Thank you for sharing

Nita L
Nita L8 months ago

Thank you for this fantastic news!!!

Michael F
Michael Friedmann8 months ago

Noted Thank You for Sharing This !!!

Paulo R
Paulo R9 months ago

fantastic news. ty

joan silaco
joan silaco9 months ago


bob p
bob p9 months ago

They need to be FREE. Nice picture

Tom P
Tom P9 months ago

Beautiful thing. And a beautiful pic instead of bold and gore, for a change.

Lesa D
Lesa D9 months ago

thank you Alicia...

Eric Early
Eric Early9 months ago

It's nice to see good news amid the seemingly endless torrent of horrible events happening all the time. Many thanks.