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How big cats from war-zones flourish at our LIONSROCK project 

9.7.2019

In recent years, FOUR PAWS had several successful missions in rescuing big cats from war-torn countries such as Iraq, Gaza and Syria. 

We've rescued big cats from areas of conflict that now live at our LIONSROCK big cat sanctuary. We'd like to show you the remarkable improvements in their lives.

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Motan and Pisa are the newest members to join the LIONSROCK family. The two lions were transferred out of the Gaza Strip in what was our biggest emergency mission to date. When arriving at LIONSROCK, it was evident that they’d only been kept in tiny concrete cages as they didn’t know how to react to the sensation of grass under their feet. Both Motan and Pisa are healthy, have adapted well to their new environment, and are warming up to their new caretakers. Pisa had her first medical check. As she was used for breeding by her previous owner, we spayed her. We’re happy to say that she’s in good health and flourishing, after initially being shy and insecure.

Laziz was the only surviving big cat from Khan Younis Zoo in Gaza. The zoo was named as the worst zoo in the world.  

Tiger Laziz arrived at LIONSROCK in August 2016 after being rescued from Khan Younis Zoo in Gaza. The zoo was named as the worst zoo in the world. Laziz, the only surviving big cat, was one of 15 animals left in the zoo – the survivors from what had once been a collection of hundreds of animals. His rehabilitation has been challenging, but it is clear that he’s recovering from his horrible past. After first arriving at LIONSROCK all seemed well, until the first seasonal thunderstorm struck. Months of rehabilitation was compromised in an instant as he associated the sound of this storm with that of bomb attacks. It took several months for him to cope with these regular summer storms in the Free State. The team of caretakers had to put a lot of adaptive measures in place to make him feel at ease in his surrounding again. Besides that, special care and attention was given to him through which the team gained his trust again.

Simba was one of only two animals found alive at Montazah Al-Morour Zoo.  

Simba was born at the Montazah Al-Morour Zoo during the ongoing war in Iraq, where many of the animals died of starvation or were killed by bomb attacks. It really was a tragedy playing out for the animals at this zoo. Simba's father, weak and emaciated, was killed by his mate to provide food for herself and Simba. The FOUR PAWS rescue team stepped in the zoo for the first time in February 2017, and only found two animals alive: lion Simba and bear Lula. Simba spent more than 18 months in rehabilitation at Al’Mawa for Wildlife and Nature, a partner sanctuary in Jordan, before he was ready for his journey to his forever home in South Africa. 

Saeed was born in captivity during the war in Syria. 

Saeed joined the LIONSROCK family after he was rescued from Syria. Because he was so young when rescued, it is believed that Saeed was born in captivity during the war in Syria. He was one of 13 animals rescuedin July 2017 from the war-torn Magic World amusement park near Aleppo. He is quite the social big cat and we have seen him improve even more since arriving at LIONSROCK. Saeed is squint-eyed, which might be a result of inbreeding, and we have realised that this affects his vision to some extent. We’ve also tried introducing him to a female of the same age, but until now his behaviour towards her is quite inconsistent and might be as a result of his insufficient eye sight.  

Simba and Saeed both arrived at LIONSROCK in February 2018.

These big cats are all survivors and we’re giving them the lives they deserve, under the African sun.

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