Ethiopian president comes to rescue of zoo’s lion cubs

Published Monday, December 11, 2006

Even cuteness won’t always buy your safety if you’re an Abyssinian lion cub in a cash-strapped zoo.

The Lion Zoo in the impoverished nation’s capital has been killing the endangered animals, poisoning six cubs this year because of lack of funding and space, zoo officials said.

HELPING HAND: An Italian aid group brought two orphaned cubs to the Italian Embassy, where the wife of a diplomat has been caring for them inside a fenced garden.

MORE HELP: Then President Girma Wolde-Giorgis learned about the lions and found them a new home in the country’s eastern, fertile Awash Valley, 380 miles from Addis Ababa.

EXOTIC ANIMAL: Abyssinian lions live only in Ethiopia. Although government wildlife officials say there are 3,000 roaming the country, conservationists say the real tally is closer to 1,000.

Famed for their black manes, Abyssinian lions are Ethiopia’s national symbol, adorning statues and the local currency. Ethiopians have long been fascinated with the rare creatures.

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