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Zoo-born lion’s first moment outdoors captured in photos

June 18, 2024 - 14:52 By Shin Ji-hye

A male white lion takes his first step into the outdoor section of Spavalley resort in Daegu, after having been born and kept within a basement cell for his entire life. (Yonhap)

A lion that was born and kept in the basement cell of an indoor zoo for its whole life experienced what it feels like to be outside for the first time on Monday.

According to Yonhap News Agency and officials at Spavalley, a theme park in Daegu, the male lion appeared bewildered at first and hesitated, but he soon began to explore his new home of around 500 square meters of land -- more than 10 times the size of the previous indoor cell. The lion also met his lifelong female lion companion, which had arrived earlier that day.

The lion pair were among over 324 abandoned animals rescued from a zoo that closed down in May last year.

A lion couple at their previous home in a closed indoor zoo, in Suseong-gu, Daegu, before their relocation Monday (Yonhap)
A male lion is anesthetized ahead of its relocation to a new facility. (Yonhap)

A female lion moves around the outdoor zoo area of Spavalley resort in Daegu on Monday. (Yonhap)

After news about the dire situation of zoo animals began to spread, Spavalley in Daegu’s Dalseong-gun acquired all of them for 131 million won ($94,000) last month. It is currently in the process of moving them to new homes one by one.

When Spavalley officials came to rescue the animals, “they were too thin. They kept collapsing while being rescued,” an official said. The closed zoo, located in the second basement floor of a building, was dark with minimal lighting, with piles of trash, waste and insects.

Piles of trash are seen at a closed indoor zoo in Suseong-gu, Daegu, where more than 300 animals were left behind. (Yonhap)

The now-closed zoo had been the subject of controversy since last year even when it was still in operation, with visitors reporting to authorities what they claimed to be evidence of animal abuse by neglect and poor management of zoo facilities.

Following the reports, in November last year the city of Daegu imposed a penalty of 3 million won on the business operator.

Spavalley said it will continue to move the remaining animals, including 17 monkeys, to to its zoo.

A monkey looks through a glass screen at a closed indoor zoo in Suseong-gu, Daegu, Monday. (Yonhap)