A WEST Lothian zoo has launched a public appeal for £150,000 to provide a new permanent home for four lions rescued from a travelling French circus.
Five Sisters Zoo, at West Calder, plans to build a new enclosure for the animals which were seized by Belgian officials in May. Zoo owners Brian and Shirley Curran say they have six months to raise the necessary money and bring the lions to Scotland.
Three years ago the couple ran a successful appeal to rehome three ex-circus brown bears, which are now settled in a two-acre, natural woodland sanctuary at the zoo.
The lions were with the circus performing in the Belgian city of Luik when government officials swooped and confiscated the cramped trailer in which the lions were housed. Belgian law forbids the use of wild animals in circuses. The lions were taken to a rescue centre and the authorities have been looking for a permanent home for them ever since.
The lions are believed to be about six years old and are thought to have been born in captivity and sold to the circus at a young age.
The trailer in which the lions lived was found to be in poor condition with large pieces of metal jutting out and holes in the floor.
Mr and Mrs Curran said they had pledged to bring the four lions to Five Sisters.
They said: “Having identified a suitable two-acre site, the aim within a six-month period is to have raised £150,000, built a suitable enclosure and bring the lions to live permanently at the zoo.
“We have succeeded in the past with the three ex-circus bears and are now determined that we can do this once again in order to give these poor lions a home where they can live the rest of their lives peacefully.
“This is an enormous undertaking for us but with all the pledges of help we have had we are confident that we can make this happen.” Lesley Winton, director of the Winton Foundation for the Welfare of Bears, praised the Currans’ dedication over the rescue of the ex-circus bears. She said: “There are no two better people to embark on the rescue of the circus lions and I would urge everyone to support them in their efforts to bring these magnificent animals to the safety and sanctuary of the Five Sisters Zoo.”