Animal welfare volunteers rescued two starving lions abandoned at a Russian hotel that had reportedly been beaten and left to die when the owner fled.
Rescuers found one of the emaciated big cats cramped in a small cage, while a lioness was discovered in a bedroom, according to local news reports.
It is also believed the pair of wild animals suffered wounds from beatings with a metal rod, the Daily Mail reports.
The hotel owner Kirill Babenko bought the lions on the black market in a bid to promote his business before he fled to India a number of weeks ago, according to local reports.
Rescue volunteers said the animals were "moaning and groaning" with hunger when they found them.
Natalia Zinkova, a volunteer who helped to release the lions, said: "The lion was so weak he couldn't move towards food that we brought for him."
"His fur is in terrible condition, he is badly dehydrated.
"The lion was left locked inside his small cage," she said.
Zinkova added the wild animals, used as an attempt to draw visitors to the hotel, were not monitored after the owner ran off.
"What we witnessed is the very sad end result of such black market purchases. I just hope that both young lions make it," Ms Zinkova said.
The lions are now fighting for life, while animal experts say it will the months for the big cats to return to health.