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We Don’t Actually Know If These Syrian Men Ate A Zoo Lion

A photo of three Syrian men cutting up a zoo lion has suggested that the people of Syria are so hungry, they’ve resorted to eating zoo animals. However, this isn’t necessarily the case.

An image showing three Syrian men next to a dead lion, with one of the men cutting up the lion’s hind legs, has caught the attention of both social media and international media.

The photo is being used as “proof” that the people of Syria are so hungry that they’ve resorted to killing zoo animals for food.

The Independent has said the photo is being circulated “as an example of the levels of sheer desperation many have reached in the war-torn capital.”


Peace be with you!

@ru4peace2

When will the world wake up to the suffering in #Syria? Starving rebels eat lion from a #Damascus zoo | The Times http://t.co/ffv5BbEaNF

/ Via

Jay

@WickWonder

The poor people of #Syria, forced to kill and eat lion from Damascus zoo..

/ Via

Hollie Bell

@_HollieBell

I don’t know much about Syria, but I came across this… it’s so upsetting, had no idea it was so bad http://t.co/WinrzjypSG

/ Via

Given that 1000s ppl starve to death daily, I'm not sure why I find this particularly upsetting, but I do: http://t.co/HwONT9t1KH #Syria

— olewis75 (@Oliver Lewis)

Oliver Lewis

@olewis75

Given that 1000s ppl starve to death daily, I’m not sure why I find this particularly upsetting, but I do: http://t.co/HwONT9t1KH #Syria

/ Via

It’s been reported that the photo was originally shared on Facebook by BBC Journalist Julia Macfarlane, but Macfarlane has confirmed that the photo does not belong to her.

@CateSevilla Had a long convo with @troublejee @Free_Media_Hub 2 days ago about it. No not mine. Furthest back we got was @MousaAlomar

— juliamacfarlane (@Julia Macfarlane)

Julia Macfarlane

@juliamacfarlane

@CateSevilla Had a long convo with @troublejee @Free_Media_Hub 2 days ago about it. No not mine. Furthest back we got was @MousaAlomar

/ Via

The source of the original photo hasn’t been verified, and many are assuming that this photo means the people of Syria are now just so hungry they’re breaking into zoos and killing the animals at will:

What the hell is wrong with you Syria?!? Killing a lion for food? I understand the need for food and such, but seriously? A LION? :|

— jiggyfernandez (@JIGGY FERNANDEZ THO)

JIGGY FERNANDEZ THO

@jiggyfernandez

What the hell is wrong with you Syria?!? Killing a lion for food? I understand the need for food and such, but seriously? A LION? :|

/ Via

Syria : As starvation mounts rebels slaughter lion instead of cats http://t.co/YfUoKgpmIO via @zamanalwsl

— Feni_55_Crystal (@Fenia Yfandi)

Fenia Yfandi

@Feni_55_Crystal

Syria : As starvation mounts rebels slaughter lion instead of cats http://t.co/YfUoKgpmIO via @zamanalwsl

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However, this is not necessarily what is happening.


The photo was apparently taken at a zoo in the al-Qarya al-Shamya Zoo. Al-Ghouta is a suburb of Damascus that is divided into East Ghouta and West Ghouta,and apparently the Syrian Regime has managed to cut off all resources to the area by closing main highways and military roads to East Ghouta.

The Independent have reported that Syria clerics “issued a fatwa” that allows people living in the besieged areas to eat meats that are normally forbidden under Islamic law, including dogs, cats and donkeys.

Some have pointed out the lion could have already been dead, and although people in the area are starving, Now have explained that local residents are saying they don’t need lion meat to survive:


The men could have ‘mercy killed’ a sick lion because of the lack of medication; they could also be using its coat of fur because temperatures have decreased. However, slaughtering a lion for the sake of eating it is not the case in al-Ghouta (at least that is what al-Ghouta residents have asserted): ‘We don’t need to consume lion meat, nor cat meat. YES, we are hungry and suffering from the lack of resources, but whoever is trying to advertise for our humanitarian crisis surely did it wrong using lions, cats and donkeys.’

Whether or not the lion was already dead, a “mercy kill”, or was in fact being used for food has not been confirmed, and perhaps it will remain one of of the many unanswered questions about the situation in Syria.

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Managing Editor, BuzzFeed UK. Pizza Eater. Sci-fi nerd.
Contact Cate Sevilla at cate.sevilla@buzzfeed.com
 
 
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