A five week-old lion cub was saved from its confines in a balcony in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, where it was being kept as a domestic pet.
The cub, which was rescued by an animal welfare group, was identified as an African lion by the non-governmental organization, Animals Lebanon, which is taking care of the feline.
Jason Mier, executive director at Animals Lebanon said the cub was smuggled into the country to be kept as a pet.
"It seems to have been brought in from Syria or possibly bought within Lebanon, there is a very big trade of lions coming in from Syria, some of the zoos here bring in dozens of lions but these animals keep dying off because of the conditions are so bad to begin with and there's very little understanding of the care, luckily for this one lion cub we are going to be able to send him to a sanctuary in South Africa it might take us another couple of weeks to get all the permits in place."
Lebanon has yet to join the treaty, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
"We are working with the Ministry of Agriculture to have Lebanon join CITES, the convention which should regulate the trade of these animals and hopefully prevent some of these cases from occurring," Mier said.
NGO officials say the incident conveys the rapidly increasing trend, in the past few years of domesticating lions in Lebanon. There are only 40,000 African lions left in the world as their numbers have nearly halved over the last two decades.
Jason Mier - Executive director at Animals Lebanon