BETHLEHEM, South Africa – Two male lions, Simba and Saeed, were exploring their new South African enclosure on Tuesday, the end to an arduous journey after being rescued from zoos in the war zones of Iraq and Syria by the animal charity Four Paws.
The two lions were first brought for rehabilitation at a temporary rescue center in Jordan, and after regaining their health were transferred to the large grassy enclosure named Lionsrock in the town of Bethlehem, South Africa.
“We hope to socialize them with lionesses in our beautiful sanctuary Lionsrock in South Africa, where they can enjoy their lives under the African sun,” Four Paws said in a statement.
Simba was born in Mosul, Iraq, in 2014, the same year the Islamic State terror organization took over the city, and was one of only two animals still alive in the abandoned Montazah Al-Morour Zoo when he was rescued by Four Paws in April 2017, along with a bear named Lula.
The younger lion Saeed was born in Aleppo, Syria, in 2016 during the height of the bitter siege on the city, and was rescued in July 2017 from the war-ravaged Magic World Zoo in what Four Paws described as a “high risk mission.”