The heartwarming story of King, the young lion rescued from an apartment where he was being kept illegally as an ‘exotic pet’ in a small, dirty cage.

In celebration of World Lion Day, here’s a heartwarming animal rescue story. Born Free is officially introducing King – the young lion that was recently rescued.

King was introduced to his new home at Born Free’s big cat sanctuary in Shamwari Private Game Reserve, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, a month ago, and he is settling in well.

The one-year-old lion cub was rescued from an apartment on the outskirts of Paris in October 2017 where he was being kept illegally as an ‘exotic pet’ in a small, dirty cage.

From distress to rescue, thanks to public alertness

Late last summer, distressing images were circulated on social media of a tiny lion cub being kicked and beaten by an unknown man somewhere in France. Horrified members of the public alerted the authorities, who immediately launched an investigation.

Their inquiries led them to an abandoned apartment in the Paris suburb of Noisy-le-Sec. Inside they made a shocking discovery – a male cub, half-starved and cowering in a small, dirty cage.

French animal rescue charities Fondation 30 Million d’Amis and Refuge de l’Arche sprang into action to treat the poor cub and found him a temporary home at Natuurhulpcentrum rescue centre (NHC), in Belgium. There, he was nursed back to health and named King.

King started his journey from Natuurhulpcentrum rescue centre, Belgium, on Thursday 5th July. From Belgium, he travelled under the care of Born Free’s expert team to London Heathrow airport for a flight to Africa. After a short internal flight, King touched down in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, before travelling the short distance by road to Shamwari and to his new home at Born Free’s Jean Byrd Centre.

His ‘owner’ was taken into custody on charges associated with illegally keeping a wild animal and animal abuse.

Victims of the exotic pet trade

King was an innocent victim of the exotic pet trade. The keeping of wild animals as pets is a growing concern. Wild animals, whether they have been taken from the wild or bred in captivity, have extremely complex social, physical and behavioural needs and are, therefore, particularly susceptible to suffer when kept as pets.

Recent data released by Born Free revealed there are 4,798 dangerous wild animals currently licensed for private keeping in Great Britain.

From a squalid cage in a Paris apartment to the African bush, King has been in his new home at Born Free’s big cat sanctuary in Shamwari, South Africa, and the team is delighted by his progress, and he is settling in well. The animal care team at their Jean Byrd Rescue Centre where he now lives have reported that he is very inquisitive and loves his food!

Glen Vena, Born Free’s Animal Care Manager, said: “All is good, and King looks great. King has been out and about, relaxing in the cooler weather in the afternoon. He is becoming more relaxed, and can often be found by his water trough or under his jungle gym. He takes his food and runs with it into his shelter to enjoy quietly.”

Such an incredibly heartwarming animal rescue story!

How you can help:

If you want to help the young lion enjoy his new life free from harm in his ancestral homeland, you can adopt King, and help fund his food, veterinary care and enclosure upkeep at Shamwari.

To support King, find out more on the Born Free website.

Also Read: 

Revealed: 10 Most Illegally Traded Endangered Animals

These Incredible Puppy Rescue Stories Will Make You Smile