BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: World: South Asia
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Saturday, 26 January, 2002, 16:35 GMT
Lion of Kabul roars his last
Marjan and his keeper
Animal welfare teams came too late for Marjan
Marjan, the lion who survived years of conflict and ill-treatment in Afghanistan and touched the hearts of animal lovers abroad, has died at Kabul zoo.

The 25 year-old beast who was half-blind, lame and almost toothless died of old age only weeks after an international animal rescue mission arrived to help him.

The only lion in Kabul zoo, he was a gift from Germany in more peaceful times 23 years ago, and became something of a symbol of survival against the odds.

Among his reported exploits are killing and eating a Taleban fighter who climbed into his enclosure to prove his bravery.

The man's brother attacked the lion with a grenade in revenge, leaving it lame and blind in one eye.

A miracle animals survived

Kabul zoo
Kabul municipality hopes to reconstruct the battered zoo
The keeper who looked after Marjan for the last eight years said the lion had not eaten for a few days when he found him dead in his cage on Saturday morning.

"He was very old. He had to go sometime", Sheraq Omar was quoted as saying.

And he expressed hope that Marjan would be replaced, preferably by a breeding pair.

Teams from the World Society for the Protection of Animals are in Kabul and took food and medical aid for Marjan and the few other animals to have survived at the run-down zoo.

They also installed heating and lighting in Marjan's indoor quarters and provided a ramp to help him get in and out.

The society said conditions at the zoo had been truly awful.

But it paid tribute to zoo staff who had remained to care for the animals despite not being paid for several months and being short of food themselves.

The BBC's Ade Akintonwa
"To the people of Kabul he was the symbol of survival against the odds"
See also:

13 Jan 02 | South Asia
Help arrives for Kabul's war-weary lion
21 Nov 01 | South Asia
Kabul's one-eyed lion soldiers on
06 Dec 01 | South Asia
Animal victims of Afghan conflict
09 Jan 02 | South Asia
Vets to rescue Kabul menagerie
23 Nov 01 | UK Politics
MPs join battle for Kabul's lion
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more South Asia stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more South Asia stories