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Jogger Finds Abandoned Lion Cub In The Middle Of A Field

On Sunday, a man was jogging through a field near Utrecht, in the Netherlands, when he found something bizarre — sitting in the grass was a metal dog cage, and inside the cage was a tiny lion cub.

The jogger immediately got in touch with local police, and officers and a vet hurried to the scene. Then the police got in touch with Stichting Leeuw, a local sanctuary for rescued big cats, which came to pick up the lion.

The cub, who’s about 5 months old, seemed accustomed to people, according to Daphne Pels, a keeper at Stichting Leeuw.

“He [was] … probably bought in another country from an illegal breeder or circus,” Pels told The Dodo. “We think he was held in someone’s house and they got rid of him when he started to grow too big.”

But this is just speculation, and no one is completely certain where the lion cub came from.

The cub seemed pretty distressed to be in the small cage, and he’d scratched his nose trying to find a way out, Pels said.

Despite the cub’s frustrated state, the rescue team managed to safely transfer him to the sanctuary without sedation, which could have been dangerous if the cub had an underlying medical condition. Once there, he was given a basic medical check, as well as food and water, and placed in a comfortable enclosure. He’s settling in nicely, according to Pels.

“The cub is healthy as far as we can see,” Pels said. “He is drinking water and eating now.”

Unfortunately, the cub will never be able to be released into the wild, since he was probably captively bred and raised.

“In the big picture, this is another sad story of a captive big cat that will live his entire life in a cage,” Susan Bass, director of public relations for Big Cat Rescue (BCR), a U.S. sanctuary, told The Dodo. “This cub is very young and should have still been with its mother. We may never know exactly what happened, but the cub could have been part of the exotic pet trade, or being raised to later be used in a canned hunt or even killed for his bones, teeth and skin. What is clear is that this cub should never have been in a cage. Lions are meant to live in the wild.”

On Wednesday, a vet will visit Stichting Leeuw to give the cub a full medical assessment, which will help the team figure out the best plan for the cub’s future. It’s possible he’ll be able to go to a larger sanctuary in South Africa once he’s bigger and stronger, Pels said.

“He will probably stay with us until he is at least 1 year old,” Pels said. “We will make a plan for him in time, together with the authorities who confiscated him officially.”