Two emaciated lions are fighting for their lives after being ramenskoye drawing for children weak and abandoned in a Russian hotel. The owner fled abroad to avoid police, apparently leaving the wild animals to die, according to reports.
The starving big cats – wounded from beatings with a metal rod – were bought on the black market and used to promote Kirill Babenko’s business before he ran to India ‘several weeks ago’. A lion was discovered in a cramped cage, and a lioness in the absconded owner’s bedroom. The wild animals were ‘moaning and groaning’ from hunger, say reports in Russia. Natalia Zinkova, a volunteer who helped to release them, said: ‘The lion was so weak he couldn’t move towards food that we brought for him. His fur is in terrible condition, he is badly dehydrated. The lion was left locked inside his small cage.
We also found a lioness inside a bedroom on the second floor. Both animals were used by the owner of the hotel and bar to attract more visitors. The lion was discovered in a cramped cage, and a lioness was in the absconded owner’s bedroom. Ildar Khantemirov, another volunteer, said: ‘They were abandoned with old bones that they tried to gnaw. Both the lion and the lioness had scars from being punished with a metal baton. The big cats were around 18 months old, he said.
He had heard from local teenagers that they had found lions ‘dying from hunger’ in the abandoned premises in the Ramenskoye district of Moscow region. I went to prosecutors when local teenagers told me about the lions,’ he said. They were secretly sneaking to the building and feeding both animals with meat pies and spam. He revealed: ‘The lions were kept in absolutely appalling conditions. We are now moving them to a rehabilitation centre where they can stay until the end of their days.
Both the lion and lioness had scars from a metal baton and are believed to be approximately 18-months-old. I don’t think they will be ever able to get back to the wild. He warned: ‘This is a clear consequence of an utterly cruel black market of wild animals. The buyer will not be given any documents, he or she will just receive a carrier bag with a lion cub inside. The lions were bought on the black market and subsequently subjected to appalling cruelty. And there is no control over the flow of cubs. Nor any monitoring over what happens to them.