This is the moment Simba the lion cub – barely able to move after being abused and abandoned by a tourist photographer – plays with his toy black panther pal after slowly recovering at a shelter.
The adorable footage was shared by the ‘Spasi Menya’ (‘Save Me’) animal shelter in the city of Chelyabinsk in the south-western Russian region of Chelyabinsk Oblast.
Veterinarian Karen Dalakyan said that lions are social animals and the cub is in need of company.
Dalakyan added: “To help with the psychological trauma the cub has gone through, we bring him soft toys that he snuggles up to and plays with.
“The black panther won over his heart which was a large toy gifted to the shelter by friends.”
Dalakyan said that it is not known how Simba, who was brought to the shelter in early April, lost his parents.
According to the reports, Simba was used by an unidentified photographer last summer who abandoned him in the autumn in the Russian resort city of Sochi.
Found mutilated and starving, the lion was passed to one of the circuses in south-western Russian Republic of Dagestan where the animal recovered and was put up for sale.
The ‘Save Me’ shelter managed to buy Simba for 60,000 RUB (650 GBP) and asked Dalakyan to treat the animal.
Dalakyan said: “He was probably beaten as the spinal bone is very sensitive around his lower back. Pressure ulcers ate his muscle to the bone. Urine and faeces was on his fur and some areas have gone bald.”
One of the shelter volunteers recently said: “Thanks to the treatment and ongoing care, Simba managed to stand on all four paws and even took his first steps.
Archive Story: Simba The Cub Takes 1st Steps Since Photographer Abuse
“I was not expecting this to happen so soon, to be honest, but I am very happy to see him walking. Simba is not that confident with his legs, but progress is obvious.”
Netizen ‘Natalya Sukhareva’ said: “Simba looks way better now, hope he fully recovers soon.”
‘Olga Anatolieva’ commented: “How could anyone abuse such an adorable creature? I wish there were more people like that kind vet in the world and fewer like Simba’s previous owners.”
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Story By: Gheorghi Caraseni, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash