A ZOO hoping to provide a new home for four lions confiscated from a French circus has raised more than £10,000 in just two weeks after launching an appeal to bring the animals to Scotland.
Five Sisters Zoo in West Calder, West Lothian, wants to build a new enclosure for the male lions and has mapped out a suitable two-acre site for them.
It aims to raise £150,000 over the next six months for their new home and to transport them from Belgium where they were seized by government officials in May because the country’s law forbids the use of wild animals in circuses.
The lions have been living at a Belgian rescue centre ever since but a permanent new home is needed for them.
Their exact history is not known but they have all been castrated meaning they have no manes. It is thought they were born in captivity and sold to the circus at a young age.
The zoo, which was hit by a fire last year, has already successfully rehomed three former circus bears after launching an appeal in August 2011.
Brian and Shirley Curran, owners of the Five Sisters Zoo, said: “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.
“We had not intended asking for public donations but the overwhelming response was that the public want to help and for this we are so grateful.
“We have estimated that the enclosure and housing will cost around £150,000 and details for donating can be found on our website www.fivesisterszoo.co.uk - we have a very short timescale to make this happen.”
Lesley Winton, director of The Winton Foundation for the Welfare of Bears, said: “The dedication, commitment and unwavering determination that Shirley and Brian Curran and their team at the Five Sisters Zoo showed while embarking on the rescue of Carmen, Suzy and Peggy the ex-circus bears was a force to be reckoned with.
“Nothing would have stopped them from saving the bears from a grim fate. Shirley and Brian have a devotion towards rescuing animals in need that is only matched by their big hearts.
“There is no doubt in my mind that 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.”