Thursday 14 November 2019

Man's pet lion has five-cub litter

Queen with her five cubs at the house of her owner in Multan, Pakistan (AP)
Queen with her five cubs at the house of her owner in Multan, Pakistan (AP)

It's a baby boom for the owner of a pet lion in central Pakistan.

The African lioness named Queen has given birth to five healthy cubs - double the usual two or three-cub litters among lions.

Malik Fazal Abbas said he has had four-year-old Queen since she was two months old. She mated with a male lion that he also keeps at his home in the city of Multan. The pair has already had a litter of two cubs, now nine months old.

Mr Abbas, a cotton and mango grower, said he has a license from the Pakistani Wildlife Department to keep lions as pets - a dream he has since he was a boy.

He is not the only exotic pet owner in Pakistan. The tiger is a symbol of the ruling party of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and some supporters keep tigers that they bring out during election campaigns.

"You know, it's brave to hug lions," Mr Abbas said at his home, which has a separate section for his animals.

But keeping wildlife as pets is not a "hobby easy to afford", he added. His lions each eat 20 kg (44 pounds) of meat a day. The nine-month-old cubs each consume around 9kg (20 pounds) of meat daily.

Mr Abbas said his family was initially uneasy with the lions but later grew more comfortable, even feeding the cubs from milk bottles.

He has a caretaker for the animals, and claims he follows all precautions and safety measures to ensure his lions do not harm anyone. His neighbours often come to visit the lions with their families, he says.

A Pakistani wildlife department official said it was legal to keep the animals as pets as long as they do not endanger anyone.

"We make sure in our visits that the owners have all the protections in place," he said.

PA Media

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