Rescued Aleppo lion gives birth after Jordan move

Istanbul (AFP) - A charity has successfully transferred 13 animals to a new home in Jordan via Turkey from a neglected Syrian zoo, including a lioness who gave birth to a healthy cub just hours after arriving, it said Monday.

The Four Paws group last month moved the animals from the "Magic World" zoo and amusement park in Syria's war-torn Aleppo province to an animal protection centre in northern Turkey.

The 13 creatures -- five lions, two tigers, two Asian black bears, two hyenas and two dogs -- were then safely transported by air to an animal sanctuary outside the Jordanian capital Amman, it said in a statement.

Shortly after arriving on Saturday, the pregnant lioness, named Dana, went into labour and gave birth to a healthy cub that was called Hajar.

"The condition of the lioness and her cub is good considering the circumstances," said the charity's veterinarian Amir Khalil.

An ultrasound carried out in Turkey shows the lioness was pregnant with two cubs, raising the prospect of a second birth.

"Chances are little that the second cub will be born alive," said Khalil. "It is important that Dana gets the medical attention and rest that she needs."

After arriving, all thirteen animals were released from their transport cages for the first time since their rescue almost three weeks ago.

Most of the animals will now stay at the Jordanian animal sanctuary but both tigers will be taken to a specialised rescue centre in the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, the group is looking for a suitable home for the two dogs, who are husky-mix.

"Nothing stands between the animals from Syria and a better future," said Heli Dungler, the founder and president of the Austria-based Four Paws.