Zimbabwe sends lion and lioness to China as ‘state gifts’

via Zimbabwe sends lion and lioness to China as ‘state gifts’ – Times LIVE News24 | 22 October, 2015

Three months after more than 20 elephant calves were exported to China from Zimbabwe, China’s state Xinhua news agency has announced that the Asian country has received two lions from the southern African country.

In a clip posted to its official NewChina TV YouTube channel this week, Xinhua said the lion and lioness were a “state gift” from Zimbabwe and would live in a wildlife park in Shanghai.

Footage showed the lions’ crates being driven through some gates and then one of the lions – which appeared very restless – behind a wire fence in what looked like a concrete cage.

The report said a square had been built at the park with trees, pergolas and sandpits “that replicate the lions’ living environment in Africa”.

Pictures showed that the park was overlooked by high-rise buildings.

The news has already angered some of the many animal lovers and activists who tried to stop the export of the 24 baby Zimbabwean elephants in July. The NewChina TV report said the lions were also from a national park, but did not name the park.

But when the elephant calves were captured in Hwange late last year, a number of lions were also known to have been captured there as well. Unconfirmed reports said then that between seven and 10 lions were captured.

“The lion is about two years old, while the lioness is about three,” the report said.

Zimbabwe’s ambassador to China, Paul Chikawa, told the channel: “The lion is one of the most important animals in Zimbabwe. It is one of the Big Five animals. It symbolises power, it symbolises good things.”

On Facebook back in southern Africa there was outrage. “Heartbreaking. Where will all this end? Imagine being in the bush one minute and behind bars the next!” posted one reader in reaction to the clip.