Photos of a pack of emaciated lions at a zoo in Khartoum, Sudan, have sparked worldwide outrage, along with an online campaign to rescue them.
The condition of the sickly lions, which are currently being held in cages at Khartoum’s Al-Qureshi Park, was first brought to light by Sudanese national Osman Salih, who spotted the creatures while walking by the zoo on Jan. 18 and said seeing their condition “made my blood boil.”
Salih later wrote on Facebook that he contacted zoo administrators, who informed him that wildlife police were the ones responsible for the care of the lions, which has reportedly gone weeks without food or medicine.
“The park holds the wildlife police directly responsible for the deteriorating condition of the lions, and stated that the income of the park for a month is not enough to feed one lion for a week,” Salih claimed.
“We have consulted a number of veterinarians and wildlife specialists on the topic of treatment, which requires effort and follow-up to the health conditions of the lions, and there is a group of young people inside and outside the country who have the desire to provide assistance,” he continued. “The issue is not simply food but most importantly the animals need detailed and special treatment to rid them of infections and issues probably brought about from infested meat and poor diet.”
The heartbreaking post, which spawned the hashtag, #SudanAnimalRescue, has since been shared more than 500 times and covered by multiple media outlets.
Park officials and veterinarians responding to the public outcry surrounding the situation told the AFP that the animals’ condition had deteriorated over the past few weeks, in part due to Sudan’s worsening economic crisis.
“Food is not always available, so often we buy it from our own money to feed them,” said Essamelddine Hajjar, a manager at Al-Qureshi park, which is run by Khartoum municipality and partly funded by private donors.
Although Salih had many parties reach out to him wanting to help, he initially had difficulties trying to set up a proper way to allow social media users to donate to the lions’ plight after his first GoFundMe page was apparently shut down due to U.S. government restrictions.
However, as of Jan. 23, the official GoFundMe page to benefit the lions had finally been approved.
Sadly, one of the sick lionesses died on Jan. 20, despite all efforts being made to save her. Salih and local parties are still working hard to ensure the rest of the animals make full recoveries.
On Jan. 20, one of the other lionesses made a huge stride when she was able to eat minced meat brought to her enclosure by rescuers.
“Best video of the day,” Salih captioned a clip of the lion’s progress.
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