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Lion cubs turn into stars of Gaza family

Cash-strapped zoo in Rafah sells two young felines to Palestinian Authority employee in Strip

The grandchildren of Palestinian man Saad al-Jamal, pet two lion cubs outside their family house in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, on March 19, 2015 (photo credit: AFP/ SAID KHATIB)
The grandchildren of Palestinian man Saad al-Jamal, pet two lion cubs outside their family house in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, on March 19, 2015 (photo credit: AFP/ SAID KHATIB)

Two lion cubs have become star members of a family living in a Gaza refugee camp as a result of the weak economy in the Palestinian territory.

A cash-starved zoo in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, sold the cubs to Saadi Jamal, a Palestinian Authority security employee who has taken them home — to the delight of his four children and their neighbours.

For the past 10 weeks, “they’ve been living in the house like members of the family,” he told AFP. The children in the three-room apartment and their local friends “play all day long with the cubs.”

But this extended family comes at a price.

They gobble up half a kilo (one pound) of meat a day, a tall order in Israeli-blockaded Gaza where prices have soared since a devastating war last July-August.

“Once they turn five months,” Jamal plans to make some money by leasing the cubs out to lunar parks, seaside resorts and restaurants.

Jamal has even received a $9,000 (8,400 euros) offer to buy them, but he won’t say how much he paid the zoo.

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