A lion cub called Simba subjected to horrific cruelty in Russia is to be flown to Africa to start a new life.
The tortured animal’s legs were deliberately broken to stop it running away while being exploited on beaches as a photo prop for tourists.
Holidaymakers paid to have their pictures taken with the cute little lion.
But the predator was ‘tortured and beaten’ by its minders and suffered a debilitating spinal injury.
Simba the lion cub is set to begin a new life in Tanzania after he was rescued from a life of cruelty where his legs were broken to make him sit still for tourists to take photos
The crippled cub could hardly move and was on the point of death when it was rescued, but thanks to the work of animal surgeon Karen Dallakyan Simba can now walk and play again
The crippled cub could hardly move and was on the point of death when it was rescued.
Vladimir Putin was so shocked that he personally ordered a criminal probe into the cruelty faced by Simba.
Groundbreaking surgery means the cub can now walk and play – as seen in a new video – but Simba will remain deformed for life.
Now though, Russians behind the beast’s rescue have arranged for the cub to fly 6,500 miles from the Ural Mountains to a big cats rehabilitation centre in Tanzania.
The animal surgeon who saved Simba’s life, Karen Dallakyan, from Chelyabinsk, said: ‘The return to their spiritual homeland of wild animals of Africa rescued in Russia is taking place for the first time in our country’s history.’
Karen Dallakyan (in blue, second from left) saved Simba’s life and along wiht his team (also pictured) plans to send the lion cub to a new home
Yulia Agaeva, who headed the operation to save Simba, said there had been 30 offers to take and care for the lion, but she was convinced Tanzania was the right place
The cub had suffered ‘an ocean of pain from humans’, and his recovery was a ‘miracle’.
He said: ‘Evil photographers break bones like this so that wild predators cannot escape and behave calmly for pictures (with tourists).’
The barbarity faced by the lion triggered a heartwarming outpouring when the beast’s story was originally highlighted around the world in June.
Yulia Agaeva, who headed the operation to save Simba, said there had been 30 offers to take and care for the lion, but she was convinced Tanzania was the right place.
‘The rehabilitation centre we selected employs highly trained, kind, animal-loving doctors who will take care of Simba 24/7,’ she said.
‘It is located in a beautiful area where elephants, zebras, caracals, servals and other fauna live near Mount Kilimanjaro.’
The lion will have a huge unfenced space in which to roam although because of his injuries is unlikely to be properly released to the wild.
Simba will go to Africa with a rescued leopard, said Yulia, who heads So. Travel company.
The Tanzanian embassy is assisting with the operation to take the big cats to Africa, and the trip is expected next month.
Simba was just a few weeks old when taken from his mother and made to pose for pictures with tourists.
After exploiting the lion last summer, the performing lion’s legs were broken as it got older so that the animal could not run away.
It became ill and was ‘tortured and beaten’ by its minders, badly injuring his spine, and on the point of death, say reports.
The animal was dumped, hardly able to move, tethered in a dirty, cold barn in the Russian region of Dagestan.
‘He was practically not fed, and for some reason in the frost, water was constantly poured over him,’ said Yulia.
‘This was a real hell.’
After being exploited last summer, the performing lion’s legs were broken as it got older so that the animal could not run away
Vladimir Putin was so shocked that he personally ordered a criminal probe into the cruelty faced by Simba