SHOCKING pictures show emaciated lions that have been rescued from a travelling show in China.
The male and female, who are around 15 or 16 years old, are being cared for by vets at a zoo in the country after they were saved from a life of performing.
A male and female lion lying on the grass outside their enclosure at the zoo[/caption]
The creatures are in Liaoyang Zoo, in China’s north-eastern province of Liaoning, and vets there are nursing them back to health.
The great beasts look malnourished as they lie on the grass, while in another photo the male’s rib cage is clearly visible.
The images have been seen more than 25 million times online and led to the zoo itself being accused of cruelty by concerned members of the public.
But a spokesman explained that the pair had recently been purchased from a company which supplies circus and entertainment animals.
The Sanya Guqianqing Tourism and Performance Company, based in China’s southernmost province of Hainan, shipped the lions on 7th September after the sale was approved.
The cats arrived after a long journey on 11th September, the Liaoyang Zoo spokesman said.
The elderly animals had been kept in indoor enclosures for the past six months, and were found by zoo vets to be badly malnourished.
Responding to public concern, a government agency in Liaoyang said that it had sent officials to inspect the lions.
Its vets found the animals to be moving and eating “normally” despite their bony frames.
The lions were not diseased, and the office found no evidence of mistreatment or abuse.
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