Abandoned Pet Lions Begin New Lives!

Returning young lions to their natural habitat.

May 29, 2024
Abandoned Pet Lions Begin New Lives! | Returning young lions to their natural habitat.

Lions are truly majestic wild animals and should never be kept as pets. Now, six lions that were kept in captivity in Kuwait and abandoned when they were no longer wanted are now starting a new life in a wildlife sanctuary in Africa. They have come home to Africa.

The lions, now known as the “Kuwait 6,” were dumped by their owners in the streets of Kuwait City and the two youngest cubs were abandoned in the desert, reported The Express. While it is illegal in Kuwait to own wild animals, the law is often ignored as owning exotic wildlife is a status symbol in the country, where people playing with large cats is often featured on social media.

The lions, Muheeb, Saham, Shujaa, Saif, Dhubiya and Aziza were rescued from starvation by volunteers from the Kuwait Zoo. The two youngest cubs had to be nursed back to health by the zoo staff.

After the lions were found, the Animal Defenders International (ADI) offered them a home in its 455-acre wildlife sanctuary in South Africa, according to a press release emailed to Goodnet from the organization.

Illegal Wildlife trade
The illegal wildlife trade is thriving around the world  and lion cubs are increasingly popular. The young babies are captured from their mothers and are dependent on their captures for food and attention, Sadly, the animals are frequently kept in inhumane conditions including being chained or kept in basements.

When the animals grow and are no longer easy to handle or the expense of feeding them gets too much, they are frequently abandoned like the Kuwait 6. The ADI stresses that this is a problem that is growing and could reach epidemic proportions.

That is why the organization rescues wildlife like these six young lions as well as rescued zoo animals like Rueban – the world’s loneliest lion – and re-homes them in its sanctuary.  “Lions should never be kept as pets, they are wild animals,” Jan Creamer, president of ADI said in the press release.

The Rescue
After the young lions were nursed back to health at the zoo, a special cargo flight was arranged with Qatar Airways Cargo as part of their WeQare charity initiative that returns rescued wildlife to their natural habitats at no charge.

We are proud to once again be supporting ADI, this time in bringing these six beautiful lions home to Africa, Mark Drusch, chief officer cargo at Qatar Airways Cargo said in the news release. “It takes a lot of effort and logistics for our team to organize moving such large animals, but it is something we are all collectively very proud and passionate to be a part of.”

The lions were monitored throughout their relocation journey by wildlife veterinarian Dr Peter Caldwell, including during the sedation that was necessary for the lions to be loaded into their travel crates. During the 15-hour flight, the animals were fed and watered by ADI staff.

 When the lions arrived on May 19, 2026, they were initially placed into their night houses and later were released into quarantine enclosures where they will remain for two weeks. “The Kuwait 6 lions have their whole lives ahead of them and will have acres of space at the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary, Creamer said.

 “Seeing these lions playing as they start their new lives at the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary is magical and we are excited to see them start to explore their large habitats,” she added. It is also a reminder of how much work needs to be done to stop the suffering of others like them and to defeat the wildlife traffickers. I hope that people will join ADI as we work for that goal.”

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.