Mosul zoo’s last survivors, Simba the lion and Lula the bear, flown to safety

The swine were found covered in dirt and excrement and abandoned in their cages in February

Simba the lion and Lula the carry, the past two tenants of Mosul zoo, have been hovered out of Iraq to receive emergency care from an animal welfare group.

A group of veterinarians from the Four Paws International charity took the swine out of war-battered Mosul and after many administrative stalls eventually managed to hover them to Jordan from the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Arbil.

Were in the plane with the swine, were leaving now, replied Amir Khalil, a 52 -year-old Egyptian-Austrian vet who headed the Four Paws mission.

The doctor detected the pair covered in dirt and excrement in February, abandoned in their cages at the privately owned zoo in the eastern half of Mosul.

Iraqi forces launched a massive operation to retake the city, Iraqs second greatest, from the Islamic State group in October and spent weeks duelling the jihadists street by street before eventually retaking the east bank in January.

When Four Paws reached the zoo , nobody had entered the cages in weeks and no other swine apart from the female carry and the male lion had survived.

When Khalil and his team came back to the region in late March, they had one objective which was to remove the swine temporarily from Iraq so they could receive proper veterinary care.

Im a vet I have to look after these swine, replied Khalil, a kind of roving war zone veterinarian.

They are refugees. Its our is under an obligation take them to a sanctuary.

It was supposed to be a formality, but it took Khalil and his team two weeks to eventually mash the right paperwork out of the administrative confusion that prevails in post-jihadist Mosul.

In late March, Khalil had put the two brutes to sleep, taken them out of their filthy cages on stretchers and loaded them aboard a truck employing a crane, hoping to be on an aircraft in a matter of hours.

The thud of artillery fire across the river serves as a reminder than while eastern Mosul had been fully reconquered by the federal forces, the area was still a war zone.

As the animal welfare team cautiously extracted the swine from the abandoned zoo, Ahmed Manhel looked on.

I wouldnt mind receiving some care myself, the 18 -year-old had said, leaning on two wooden crutches.

He lost his right leg in an explosion in November.

I need to leave this place, I need a prosthetic leg, the young Iraqi replied, times before the truck bearing the swine departed for Arbil.

The truck was stopped at a checkpoint, however, and a second evacuation attempt the following likewise failed.

The two swine remained on a dusty roadside for nine days before the necessary lets were secured.

The lion developed a respiratory difficulty as a result of the delay.

This has probably been our more complicated mission, replied Yavor Gechev, from the Four Paws group which has done similar work in the Gaza Strip, in Egypt during the Arab Spring and in Libya.

Before the plane eventually taken away from, physician Khalil was relieved.

This is the beginning of a new life for the swine, he replied. From now on, they wont have to be part of this war.

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