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Last Updated: Friday, 30 July, 2004, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK
Taylor's pet lioness rescued
Charles Taylor's pet lioness Ma Juah
The lioness may have brain damage as a result of starvation
Ma Juah, former Liberian President Charles Taylor's abandoned pet lioness, is flying to a new home in a South African lion sanctuary.

She is expected to be flown by courier to Ghana, and then catch a connecting flight to South Africa.

The lioness' mate died after the pair were left for 24 days in their cage without food when Mr Taylor was forced into exile last August.

The UK-based charity Born Free Foundation has organised the transfer.

Shaky

The lioness was originally rescued by Ann Leander, an English teacher and volunteer in Liberia at the time.

Charles Taylor's pet lioness Ma Juah
Mr Taylor liked to watch his pets eat a live goat
"When I first saw her... she was extremely shaky and her back legs wobbled... she tried to lift a leg of beef and couldn't in fact lift it," Ms Leander told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

Over the past 10 months Ma Juah has made a good recovery.

Although she is unlikely to be able to mix with other lions at her new home, as she may have suffered brain and bone damage as a result of the starvation, Ms Leander said.

According to the BBC's Jonathan Paye-Layleh in Monrovia, the lion and lioness were given as a gift to Mr Taylor when he visited Niger in 1998.

On visits to the farm where the lions lived, Mr Taylor delighted in throwing a live goat into their compound and sitting back and watching the "fun", said Ms Leander.

"My family and I are very pleased that... Ma Juah will be properly taken care of because we do not have the ability to do so anymore," Mrs Jewel Taylor said on Thursday at a ceremony to see the lioness off.




SEE ALSO:
Saddam family lions have new home
25 Jul 04  |  Middle East
Africa's 'shocking' lion loss
07 Oct 03  |  Science/Nature


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