1. ITV Report

Warzone lions rescued and rehoused in new home

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Martha Fairlie

Lions rescued from warzones have been rehoused at a new home in South Africa.

Simba, a lion rescued from Mosul Zoo, Iraq, but has now been taken to a sanctuary in South Africa to live out the rest of his life.

The lion is now getting used to his new surroundings in South Africa, learning a different way of life from what he was used to enclosed in Iraq.

Saeed, another lion, was rescued from Magic World zoo outside Aleppo, Syria, before being taken to the Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary.

Diana Bernas, al-Ma'wa shelter head animal keeper said: "When they both arrived, just because of the horrific conditions, they were the survivors and so many other animals died in those same conditions, they were completely dehydrated.

"Neither one of them came with open wounds which is really nice because we did receive other animals with open wounds from Syria. But it was just completely dehydrated and very, very skinny, where you could see all of their bones."

The animals have previously had to endure the various problems related to being in a area of conflict, such as the loud noises of shelling and poor conditions, so are relieved at their new surroundings.

Fiona Miles has spoken about the animals' transition at their new home. Credit: AP

The majority of the other 40 animals housed at Mosul zoo died of starvation or were killed in bombings but Simba was rescued by Four Paws.

Fiona Miles, director at Four Paws South Africa, said: "You can't image what it must feel like to feel grass under your feet for the first time.

"How does that affect you, how does the sounds surrounding you make you feel, if we are sitting here today, the birds are chirping, the lions are roaring, it is completely peaceful, and that's something these animals have never been exposed to, that type of peace. And so it is really overwhelming and I think it is a big privilege, because we represent here today, all the teams, all the colleagues and all the donors who really wanted this to happen."