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New life in France for three tigers rescued in Lebanon

Ⓒ AFP – ANWAR AMRO – | One of the three Siberian tigers escaped alleged clandestine trafficking in Aley, Lebanon, on 10 July 2017

Three young Siberian tigers who escaped alleged clandestine traffic have left Lebanon and must start a new life on Tuesday in France, an animal protection group said.

The felines were taken over by the association Animals Lebanon in March after being discovered at the Beirut airport in a wooden box, dehydrated.

The animals had arrived from Ukraine and were to be taken to a nearby Syrian zoo, but a Lebanese judge ordered them to be handed over to Animals Lebanon.

Ⓒ AFP – ANWAR AMRO – | One of the three Siberian tigers preparing to fly to France in Aley, Lebanon, July 10, 2017

The NGO carried out a legal battle of four months which enabled it to obtain on June 7 the agreement of the Lebanese government to transfer the tigers to France.

On Monday night, the three tigers – MAY, Antoun and Tanya- – were boarded a special plane that is scheduled to land on Tuesday evening at the sanctuary of the Tonga association host land near Lyon, said the director of Animals Lebanon, Jason Mier.

“I was able to sleep after taking off from the plane and now they can enjoy their lives,” he told AFP.

Images published by Animals Lebanon in March showed three small weakened tigers, eaten away by worms and covered with excrement, in a small crate pierced with a few holes.

In July 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture issued a decree to stop the trafficking of exotic animals and to impose official licenses on zoos.

Lebanon has also been a member since 2013 of the Convention on Trade in Endangered Wildlife.

Since taking over the three tigers, the NGO claims to have received many threats.

Ⓒ AFP – ANWAR AMRO – | A Siberian tiger discovered in March at the Beirut airport, which must start a new life in France, in Aley, Lebanon, July 10, 2017

“We were escorted by the police last night” on the way to the airport, Mier told AFP. Tigers “are worth a lot of money and everything revolves around it”.

Animals Lebanon hopes that this story will improve the training of customs officers at the airport to identify possible trafficking and to press Parliament to pass a more binding animal protection law.

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