Rescuers from the international animal welfare group, Four Paws, retrieved 13 emaciated and terrified animals from a zoo in war-torn Aleppo, Syria, and transported them to sanctuaries in Turkey and Jordan.
The timing was perfect for one lioness named Dana – she went into labour not long after arriving at the Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife sanctuary in Jordan.
A healthy white-fur cub was born and was named Hajar, which means ‘immigrant’ in Arabic. The sex is still unknown.
After discovering she was pregnant via ultrasound, the rescue team were concerned for the welfare of the cub. The stress of relocation could have potentially caused harm, and on occasion, unborn cubs don’t make it.
“Our team on site was very concerned about whether the lioness would accept the cub or kill it, as this is what lions sometimes do when they are under enormous stress,” the organisation wrote on their Facebook page.
“But luckily that wasn’t the case. She cleaned the cub and nursed it. This is a true sign that she feels safe at Al Ma’wa.”
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A recent ultrasound, however, showed that Dana was pregnant with two cubs, but it’s unlikely the unborn cub survived. “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,” said Four Paws veterinarian, Amir Khalil.
Dana was one of 13 animals transferred from the ‘Magic World' zoo and amusement park – five lions, two tigers, two Asian black bears, two hyenas and two dogs.
Most of them will stay in the sanctuary, while the tigers will be taken to a Dutch specialised rescue centre. The charity is looking for a forever home for the two dogs.
“Many people called this rescue mission ‘Mission Impossible’, but we proved them wrong,” said Four Paws founder, Heli Dunglar. “Now, nothing stands between the animals from Syria and a better future.”