Bahrain officials rescue 'abandoned' lions, tigers
Manama, March 21, 2014
Bahrain's police and animal welfare officers seized six lions and two tigers last night after being discovered in small cages near a residential area in Salmabad area, a report said.
The massive rescue operation started at 11 pm and continued until early this morning at a scrapyard, where the cats were abandoned by a travelling circus, the Gulf Daily News (GDN) report said.
It was conducted following urgent directives from His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.
Troy International Circus officials yesterday admitted to the GDN that the animals belonged to them.
The circus left Bahrain in January after spending a month at Adhari Park, despite concern from animal rights activists that it was the same travelling circus that abandoned a group of wild cats in 2011, resulting in the death of a lion cub.
The animals were discovered in small unsecured cages by workers who alerted the GDN on Wednesday, prompting concern about public safety and the welfare of the cats.
Al Areen Wildlife Park deputy general co-ordinator Dr Adel Al Awadhi told the GDN the animals would be taken to the park to be examined - with the possibility of them remaining there permanently.
"We will take them and make sure they are OK," he said at the scene last night. "These animals should not be here in an area like this; it is wrong."
Circus manager Tamer Alelateruy, who is now in Oman, told the GDN the cats were due to be shipped to either Kuwait or Oman next week.
Circus worker Sayed Ali yesterday said he and a team of people were in charge of caring for and feeding the cats 24 hours a day.
"We will be leaving with the cats on Sunday or Monday at the latest and we will be going to either Kuwait or Oman," he said. "They have been here for the last two months and we have been taking care of them, feeding them food, water and milk."
In March 2011, a diseased and seriously ill cub was taken from circus owners by concerned animal lovers and it was cared for by members of the Bahrain Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA).
It died a few months later and the remaining lions, believed to be the same ones found in Salmabad, were then shipped to Oman by the circus owners.
At the time, the Culture Ministry told the BSPCA they would not allow a circus back in Bahrain unless they had seen all the animals' import and export certificates.
"We are disappointed to learn that the performing big cats have been left in conditions unfit for animals of their size and needs, once again in Bahrain," said BSPCA spokeswoman Joyce Hughes yesterday.
"This situation occurred before when five big cats were abandoned here for several months in dreadful conditions, resulting in a lion cub dying of dehydration and kidney failure.
"At that time the society was assured by the Culture Ministry that they would not be allowed into Bahrain again, unless their return permits had been secured for them to leave the country immediately after the circus was over, so as to not cause them unnecessary stress and suffering.
"Our only hope is that one day Bahrain too will see that this is an outdated form of entertainment and is exploitation of beautiful wild creatures which belong in their own habitat in a jungle, not a tiny cage." - TradeArabia News Service