Rescued lion illustrates plight of thousands of other cubs
Simba is a 10-month-old lion cub who is being nursed back to health at the Save Me animal shelter in Chelyabinsk, southern Russia.
Just a few months ago, he was close to death, after being physically abused and neglected by a souvenir photographer in the Black Sea resort, Sochi.
Karen Dallakyan, head of the Save Me shelter, says he was in a very poor condition when they rescued him: "Each movement for the lion cub was painful and the pain was accompanied by covering his eyes with his paws. We had the impression that he thought that somebody would beat him and he was protecting himself, as a human would by protecting his eyes and face."
The Save Me team decided to rescue him, despite the fact that the ongoing pandemic, which meant quarantine measures and flight restrictions at airports.
They started treating him as soon as they found him and then took him back to Chelyabinsk. At first, he needed 17 injections a day.
Yulia Agaeva, a volunteer at the shelter, says there are still large numbers of animals in a similar position to Simba: "He is lucky that we have found him and his future will be fine. But a huge number of unfortunate lion cubs are still suffering. They are bought and resold, they are not treated as animals, but as pieces of meat.
"This is the fate of many animals. It's a huge business, big money. They are selling them and have them in horrible conditions."