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The photographs, shared on Facebook by Sudanese activist Osam Salih on Jan. 18, depict five severely malnourished and underweight lions living at a zoo in Khartoum, Sudan.
Photos taken by local photographer Ashraf Shazly show male and female lions with their bones and vertebrae exposed.
The animals are reportedly being kept at Al-Qureshi Park, according to a report by Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The park’s manager Essamelddine Hajjar told AFP that the zoo lacks resources to properly care for the animals.
“Food is not always available, so often we buy it from our own money to feed them,” she said.
In the first post, Salih says Austria-based organization Four Paws International was contacted to intervene in the animal neglect and help improve the situation.
“At the moment we are closely monitoring the situation and working hard to get access to the country and the zoo,” Four Paws said in a statement to Global News.
“We are in frequent contact with the responsible national authorities in Sudan. As soon as we get their approval, will send a team, consisting of veterinarians and wildlife experts, to Khartoum to provide the urgently needed care for the lions.”
Salih attracted a wide audience on social media, prompting fellow animal rights activists to use the hashtag #SudanAnimalRescue.
Sadly, a Facebook update by Salih says one of the weakest lionesses died of starvation after being taken to a nearby clinic.
He shared in a Jan. 19 post that veterinarians paid a visit to the zoo and were able to feed the lions meat and provide medication needed for their recovery.
“Best video of the day,” Salih wrote on social media, along with footage of the lion eating. “After Lioness finished morning treatment was able to eat the minced meat we got her.”
“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,” Salih wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday.
“Seeing these animals caged and treated this way made my blood boil.”
Per AFP, African lions are classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Between 1993 and 2014, their population dropped 43 per cent. Approximately 20,000 individuals are alive today.
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