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A new chapter: Rescued lioness from Syria gives birth to cub


FOUR PAWS releases the rescued wild animals into a species-appropriate home in Jordan

Brussles, 14.08.2017 – The rescue from the war-torn zoo in the “Magic World” amusement park close to Aleppo came just in time for a pregnant lioness. On Saturday 12 August, she gave birth to a healthy cub in her new species-appropriate home in Jordan. Only a few hours prior to this, the international animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS transferred the lioness and 12 other animals to Amman from Istanbul by passenger plane provided by Royal Jordanian. In the animal sanctuary “Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife”, about an hour away from the Jordanian capital, all thirteen animals were released from their transport cages for the first time since their rescue almost three weeks ago.

© FOUR PAWS / Ahu Savan An

A new life is about to begin for the five lions, two tigers, two Asian black bears, two hyenas and two dogs. After a challenging rescue mission in Syria, which began in late July, and weeks of waiting in Turkey, FOUR PAWS was successful in bringing the former zoo animals to Jordan. Shortly upon arrival the pregnant lioness, Dana, went into labor. “The birth of the cub named Hajar is another little wonder. We really want to thank Royal Jordanian for pushing back the flight and waiting for all animals to be on board. Otherwise Dana would have given birth in a less appropriate environment which could have ended dramatically. The condition of the lioness and her cub is good considering the circumstances,” says FOUR PAWS veterinarian and head of the mission Dr Amir Khalil. An ultrasound, previously performed during her stopover in Turkey, showed that Dana was pregnant with two cubs. “Chances are little that the second cub will be born alive. It is important that Dana gets the medical attention and rest that she needs. We are already blessed to have not only saved thirteen animals from Syria but fourteen,” explains Dr Khalil.

© FOUR PAWS / Ahu Savan An

The Jordanian animal sanctuary “Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife”, a project of FOUR PAWS in partnership with the Princess Alia Foundation, is the final stop in the long journey for most of the animals. “As soon as they are fit enough, we will take both tigers to our rescue center for big cats FELIDA in the Netherlands. Our team there is specialized in the rehabilitation of traumatized wild animals that require intensive medical treatment. We are also looking for a suitable home for the Husky-mix dogs at the moment,” explains Dr Khalil. However, there are still further extensive medical examinations pending. “The last weeks were nerve-racking and exhausting for the animals and our team as well. We were all pushed to our limits. With the arrival of the animals in Amman and the birth of the healthy cub we are celebrating another milestone of our rescue mission,” so Dr Khalil.

A warm welcome in Jordan

The founder and president of the international animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS, Heli Dungler, was present at the arrival of the animals in Amman. “I am very proud of the FOUR PAWS team. Many people called this rescue mission ‘Mission Impossible’, but we proved them wrong. Now, nothing stands between the animals from Syria and a better future,” says Dungler. The major donor, American Eric Margolis, was equally thrilled about the release of the animals into their species-appropriate enclosures. He has supported the challenging project since the very beginning. “I have followed the progress of the mission every step of the way and shared the FOUR PAWS team’s worries. Seeing the animals feel grass underneath their feet for the first time in months is wonderful. I hope that they lead long lives in their new, safe homes,” says Margolis.

A tricky rescue mission

The evacuation of the first nine animals from the abandoned amusement park “Magic World” near Aleppo took place on Friday 21st July with the help of international security agencies, the Turkish Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs and Turkish volunteers. The four animals, who remained at the zoo, were rescued a week later. Among the last group of animals was the pregnant lioness. FOUR PAWS brought all thirteen animals across the Syrian-Turkish border to the wildlife rescue center Karacabey near the Turkish city Bursa. There, the injured and traumatized animals were treated for their wounds and received medical attention before their final departure to Jordan was approved.


FOUR PAWS has created a donations web-page, where animal lovers from all over the world can contribute. Every donation offers the animals from Syria a better future:








You can find regular updates on the rescue mission through these FOUR PAWS channels: