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Throwback: Football fans bring Lion to stadium after rescuing it from struggling zoo to roar team to victory [PHOTOS]

SPORTS By Mirror | June 8th 2020
Team pride: A lion cub was seen in the stands at a game in Palestine (Image: Mahmoud Zaqout)

4TH APRIL 2015: 

Palestinian football fans showed pride in their team by taking a LION CUB to watch the game in a crowded stadium.

Alex was seen in the stands for a crunch match between Shabab Rafah and rivals El-Sadaka in the Palestinian league, clad in his team's jersey.

Fans, far from being scared, were reportedly delighted by the presence of the predator, while younger fans played with him after the match.

The lion was born in a zoo in Rafah but the owner was forced to sell the cubs in order to keep feeding other animals.

Two other adorable two-month-old lion cubs from the same zoo, Mona and Alex, have been living with refugee Saad Aldeen Al-Jamal and his six children at their home in Rafah, in southern Gaza.


Adorable: This Palestinian fan took a young lion to a footie match (Image: Mahmoud Zaqout)

The 54-year-old father says he bought the cubs from the impoverished Rafah zoo and the unusual pets have become an integral part of his family.

Al-Jamal said: "They're living inside the house just like the children. They eat and drink inside the room and they have a bed that they both sleep on. They also play football."

The cubs were born in Rafah zoo and sold when they were just two-weeks-old.

The majority of inhabitants of the conflict-hit city are refugees and poverty doesn't just affect humans but also its animals.

Rafah zoo owner, Mohammad Juma, said: "Because of the amount of animals, the bad economical situation, lack of leisure activities and that you don't have enough food or money... this (situation) would make you sell anything you have to save the rest of the animals."

The Al-Jamal family might face a similarly tough situation in the near future as the cubs already consume half a kilo of meat every day.

The family might be able to make the situation work for now, but once fully grown, lions can weigh more than 400 pounds, or nearly 200 kilograms.

Al-Jamal said that he knew the cubs would eventually become dangerous.

“In one month, they will start being kept in a cage for our own safety,” he said.

Most of the zoo animals in Gaza have been hauled into the isolated territory through smuggling tunnels linking the territory to Egypt.

In 2013, a pair of newborn lion cubs died shortly after they were proudly unveiled by Gaza’s Hamas rulers.


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