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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 April, 2003, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
US troops kill Baghdad lions
One of Uday Hussein's lions in Baghdad
Uday Hussein kept lions privately at a presidential palace
Four starving lions which dug their way out of a Baghdad zoo have been shot dead by American soldiers, the military says.

Two of the big cats lunged for the US troops who then fired at them, one soldier said.

The lions were among hundreds of animals abandoned at the zoo.

Most of the others were stolen by looters or released in the aftermath of the US takeover of the Iraqi capital.

But the thieves left seven lions and two tigers in their cages, unfed for 10 or more days.

Two of them charged our guys, we had to take them down
Sergeant Matthew Oliver

Sergeant Matthew Oliver said three lionesses and one male lion clawed their way out of their outdoor pen through a crumbling wall.

"Two of them charged our guys. We had to take them down," he said.

"The zoo keeper came the next day and he was pretty cut up, but I think he understood."

Regular meals

The US 3rd Infantry which controls Baghdad has now posted guards at the zoo to protect the big cats as well as two released bears which wandered back.

The remaining animals are now fed regularly with supplies donated by Kuwait.

A Siberian tiger owned by Saddam Hussein's son Uday appears healthier according to one report from the capital.

Uday Hussein also kept lions in his own private zoo at a presidential palace.


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