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The cubs Masoud and Terez need special medical help which can’t be provided in Bulgaria


© FOUR PAWS | Jasmine Duthie

Even though there was a definite commitment from the Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and the Minister of environment Neno Dimov – that Masoud and Terez will be taken care of in the best possible way and they will be sent to FELIDA Big Cat Center, at this moment the preparations for Masoud and Terez are to be kept in Bulgaria and transferred to Pazardzhik.

Even before the city council announced its decision to give the two cubs to the Pazardzhik zoo, they started to build new cages in Pazardzhik. On 28th January 2018 the mayor Todor Popov declared that he is ready to accept the animals.  

FOUR PAWS and Wild Animals Foundation, who are now taking care of Masoud and Terez organized on 30th January 2018 a protest in front of the Council of Ministers. The goal of the protest is for the government to assist the transfer of the two cubs to the rescue center in Holland. At the same time a petition to transfer the animals gathered more than 40 000 signatures before the protest.  

© FOUR PAWS | Jasmine Duthie

The health condition of the two cubs is still unstable and is a reason for serious concerns. Full medical checks were done on 27 January 2018. It was concluded that Terez has an unnormal bone growth in his two front paws – which is a reason for an immediate intervention –firstly a change of diet and supervision by specialists is required, and if there is no improvement – an operation will be required.

The medical check was performed by dr. Marc Gölkel – who arrived from Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin; in addition specialists from Central Veterinary Clinic Sofia which has extensive experience in treating big cats in Bulgaria. FOUR PAWS is ready to transfer the cubs to its rescue center in FELIDA Holland and will provide highly qualified medical attention and treatment for them. 

© FOUR PAWS | Jasmine Duthie

Terez’s and Masoud’s health issues are provoked by a few factors – they are at least a second generation of inbreed lions – their parents and their grandparents are also inbreed, which results in a high potential for health problems.

Secondly they have faced a lot of stress since they were born. At birth they were rejected by their mother and they had to be rescued and raised by humans – and fed with formula instead of with real lion mother’s milk. There is a high risk that the cubs would not survive their first days, weeks or even months. In addition Terez and Masoud lost their sister. If they survive these lion cubs need special care and 24/7 observation because of their health risk issues. 

© FOUR PAWS | Jasmine Duthie

The conditions for big cats in Pazardzhik zoo are not up to the modern standards. The so called zoo is nothing but a cage in the woods. Big enough but the animals inside have no privacy. This is absolutely important for them because the pressure from being exposed to visitors all the time is a torment.

The concept of the zoo is done with no consideration with the specific needs of all the animals. The zoo has no experienced and trained specialists in dealing with lion cubs like Terez and Masoud. In the town there are no veterinarians and clinics that have enough experience with wild animals, not to mention wild animals with specific needs.

The new cub cages that are being prepared now are not suitable to the requirements of the cubs and the modern standards for big cats. They provide a big area but no privacy and the cubs will be practically on display all the time. There will be constant harassment by visitors and this will cause a huge amount of stress for them. Terez and Masoud will have to live in a small cage that was used for birds and monkeys.

At the rescue center in FELIDA they will build species appropriate enclosures for big cats. Terez and Masoud will have a specific temporary home which will be inside with heating. It will be about 20 square meters, with couches, platforms, a place with sand and additional environmental enrichment. When the weather allows they will get to their outdoor area which is about 30 square meters. The animals will be given around 14 days to adapt to the enclosure. They will be monitored all the time because they have health issues at an early age and that might trigger additional health problems.

Another full medical check will be provided and their status will be monitored by the specialists from Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, who are FOUR PAWS active partners. There will be consultations with the best experts in Europe. There is a specific individual program for every animal in FELIDA that consists of diet, mental and physical evaluation and improved health. 

FELIDA Big Cat Center
© FOUR PAWS | Jasmine Duthie

FELIDA is a specialized rescue center for big cats with health and behavior problems. At present there are 6 tigers. There are not a lot of animals and this allows specialists to care for the big cats. FELIDA is a transit center for the rehabilitation of big cats before they take there journey to their species appropriate enclosures in Africa. If the health status of the animals does not allow them to travel they will stay permanently and will be raised in FELIDA. FELIDA is not open to visitors. This guarantees the maximum peace and tranquility for the animals. There are 4 permanent staff taking care of the big cats. They are professionals with the required education and experience.

FELIDA Big Cat Center
© Bogdan Baraghin | FOUR PAWS

If Terez and Masoud’s condition improves and they are fit enough the goal is to eventually take them to one of the biggest rescue centers for big cats in South Africa – Lionsrock. At Lionsrock there are more than 100 rescued big cats from all over the world. We expect that Simba – the lion saved by FOUR PAWS from the zoo in Mosul, and the lion Saeed, saved from Aleppo, will be travelling to Lionsrock this spring.

FELIDA Big Cat Center
© FOUR PAWS | Jasmine Duthie