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A New Chapter: Rescued Lioness from Syria Gives Birth to Cub

© Ahu Savan An | FOUR PAWS

FOUR PAWS releases the rescued wild animals into a species-appropriate home in Jordan


BOSTON - AUGUST 14, 2017 – The rescue of 13 wild animals from the war-torn amusement park “Magic World” near Aleppo came just in time for a pregnant lioness. On Saturday, August 12th, the lioness gave birth to a healthy cub in her new species-appropriate home in Jordan. Only a few hours prior to this, FOUR PAWS – the international animal welfare organization – transferred the lioness and 12 other animals to Amman from Istanbul by passenger plane provided by Royal Jordanian. In the animal sanctuary Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife, all 13 animals were released from their transport cages for the first time since their rescue began three weeks ago.


After the long and exhausting journey from Syria to Jordan, it appeared to the FOUR PAWS team that the lioness, Dana, waited until she was in a safe place to finally give birth. Twelve hours after the arrival to Al Ma’wa, Dana went into labor. “The birth of Hajar [the cub] is another little wonder,” commented Dr. Amir Khalil, FOUR PAWS Veterinarian and Head of Mission. “We are blessed to not only have saved thirteen animals from Syria but, now fourteen. We really want to thank Royal Jordanian for pushing back the flight and waiting for all animals to be on board. Had this not been the case, the lioness would have given birth in a less appropriate environment that could have ended dramatically.”


An ultrasound, previously performed during her stopover in Turkey, showed the lioness was pregnant with two cubs. “Considering the circumstances, the condition of the lioness and her new cub is good. It is important that the lioness receives medical attention and rest she needs for the second birth. The last weeks were nerve-racking and exhausting for the animals and our team. We were all pushed to our limits,” shared Dr. Khalil. “With the arrival of the animals in Amman and the birth of the healthy cub, we are celebrating another milestone of our rescue mission.”


A new life is about to begin for the five lions, two tigers, two Asian black bears, two hyenas, and two dogs. After a challenging rescue mission in Syria that began in late July – and resulted in weeks of waiting in Turkey – FOUR PAWS successfully brought the animals to Jordan. FOUR PAWS founder and President, Heli Dungler, was present at the arrival of the animals in Amman. “I am very proud of the FOUR PAWS team,” remarked Mr. Dungler. “Many people called this rescue mission ‘Mission Impossible’ but we proved them wrong. Now, nothing stands between the animals from Syria and a better future.”


The major American donor, Eric Margolis, was equally thrilled about the release of the animals into their species-appropriate enclosures. He has supported the challenging project since the very beginning. “I have followed the progress of the mission every step of the way and shared the FOUR PAWS team’s worries. Seeing the animals feel grass underneath their feet for the first time in months is wonderful. I hope they lead long lives in their new, safe homes,” says Margolis.


Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife is a project of FOUR PAWS in partnership with the Princess Alia Foundation. Al Ma’wa is the final stop in the long journey for most of the animals. For the two dogs Loki and Lucy, FOUR PAWS is looking for a suitable home. For the two tigers, they will eventually be transferred to FOUR PAWS’ big cat rescue center FELIDA in the Netherlands. “As soon as they are fit enough, both tigers will be brought to FELIDA where our team specializes in the rehabilitation of traumatized wild animals that require intensive medical treatment,” explained Dr. Khalil. However, further extensive medical examinations are pending.


The evacuation of the first nine animals from the abandoned amusement park “Magic World” near Aleppo took place on July 21st with the help of international security agencies, the Turkish Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs, and local Turkish volunteers. The four animals that remained at the zoo were rescued a week later. Among the last group of animals was the pregnant lioness. FOUR PAWS brought all thirteen animals across the Syrian-Turkish border to the wildlife rescue center Karacabey, located near the Turkish city Bursa. There, the injured and traumatized animals were treated for their wounds and received medical attention before their final departure to Jordan was approved.


FOUR PAWS created a donation web-page where animal lovers from all over the world can contribute. Every donation offers the animals from Syria a better future. Please visit to support our cause today!


You can find regular updates on the rescue mission, and more, through these FOUR PAWS channels: