Owner asserts the lion is harmless

Lion spotted in Baghdad sparks concerns for public safety

BAGHDAD — A lion seen in Baghdad’s Yarmouk district on Monday sparked concerns for public safety with cell phone footage showing the animal perched outside a home in the Iraqi capital.

The animal’s owner, Ali Amer, told 964media that the lion, typically kept on a farm outside the city, was brought into Baghdad for veterinary treatment. Local authorities took the lion and placed it in Al-Zawraa Park, concerning Amer about his pet’s future.

Amer insisted the lion, despite its imposing appearance, poses no threat and is afraid of humans. He claimed to have contacted authorities to explain the situation but was denied.

“I tried contacting the investigating officer to explain everything, but he outright refused,” Amer stated.

Amer, currently in Basra, said he intends to return to Baghdad to prove his legal ownership and the lion’s docility in a local court.

“It seems a public lawsuit has been filed against me due to the panic caused,” Amer said attributing the lawsuit to public fear, despite the animal reportedly having caused no harm.

According to Amer, he received the lion cub as a gift from Africa when it was just seven days old. He reportedly documented the cub’s life on social media, garnering nearly 200,000 followers. Raised on his Albu Aitha farm, the now one-year-old lion was occasionally brought to his Baghdad home for vaccinations.

Amer maintained the lion never left the home’s premises before police seized it, claiming the animal went outside when a worker was moving items from the home’s roof to the yard. The lion then exited the building and was captured by cell phone video perched on a fence outside the home sparking a response from local authorities.