Two starving lions found in an abandoned Russian hotel continue to fight for their lives after they were discovered in two cramped cages. Both an 18-month-old lion and lioness had been purchased on the black market and were used to attract tourists to the hotel located in the Ramenskoye district of Moscow.
According to Mail Online, Kirill Babenko, the owner of the hotel fled to India “several weeks prior” to avoid prosecution, leaving the two lions to die. The cats had been routinely beaten with metal rods and lived in cages in Babenko’s bedrooms. Hotel guests could take photos with the cubs, and “trainers” would make the cats obey by beating them. Their coats were in terrible condition and both had scars over their bodies. When discovered, the animals were stated to be “moaning and groaning from hunger.”
Volunteers rescuing the animals described how weak the cats were – even incapable of moving towards food. Both had been left only old bones the cats tried to gnaw. Rumors circulated that local teenagers had secretly been sneaking into the hotel and feeding the cats “meat pies and spam.” When the kids went to volunteers, members of the rescue community informed local prosecutors; an investigation was immediately launched.
Rescue worked Ildar Khantemirov warned about buying wild animals on the black market:
“This is a clear consequence of an utterly cruel black market of wild animals. I don’t think they will ever be able to get back to the wild… I know that a three month old African lion cub can be bought for as little as 140,000 roubles. ($2,400 U.S.) The buyer will not be given any documents; he or she will just receive a carrier bag with a lion cub inside.”
It is not known if the two cats will survive, but if they do, their rehabilitation will take months for them to recover. The hotel owner has not responded to any requests for comments.
(Starving lions photos via freezeshots of YouTube video and Mail Online)
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Check out the video of the rescue: (Although you may not understand the language, the tragic message rings clear)