Border Police detectives and inspectors from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority have recovered a lion cub kept illegally at an apartment in central Israel on Wednesday, after the animal appeared in a series of Tik Tok videos in recent weeks.
Dubbed “Abu Malek,” the lion cub is believed to have been traded illegally a number of times and was documented in short clips posted to a number of other social networks as well.
The police said an undercover investigation was soon launched that included “technological means and advanced investigative operations” and officers raided the apartment in central Israel where the animal was held Wednesday evening, taking it into custody.
Police said the cub “was purchased several times by several suspects who owned and traded it,” and that the investigation was ongoing in the search for more suspects.
The lion cub was being treated by the inspectors of the Nature and Parks Authority and was undergoing a veterinary examination, police said.
The cub’s origin was not immediately known.
The deputy commander of the Southern District’s Border Police anti-crime unit that led the investigation and the raid said detectives have been tracking the animal on social media for several weeks after a few videos of the cub went viral.
After police received a quality “tip” on the animal’s location, the unit “sprung into action” and raided the hidden location in central Israel where the cub was kept, Superintendent Rabia Kahlul said in a statement.