Lion cubs are stars in Gaza Strip

Saadi Al Jamal has taken them home as pets for his children.

GAZA CITY // Two lion cubs have become star members of a family living in a Gaza refugee camp as a result of the weak economy in the war-battered Palestinian territory.

A cash-starved zoo in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, sold the cubs to Saadi Al Jamal, a Palestinian Authority security employee who has taken them home — to the delight of his four children and their neighbours.

For the past 10 weeks, “they’ve been living in the house like members of the family”, he said. The children in the three-room apartment and their local friends “play all day long with the cubs”.

But this extended family comes at a price.

They gobble up half a kilo of meat a day, a tall order in Israeli-blockaded Gaza where prices have soared since a devastating war last July-August against Israel.

“Once they turn five months,” Mr Al Jamal plans to make some money by leasing the cubs out to lunar parks, seaside resorts and restaurants.

Mr Al Jamal has even received a $9000 offer to buy them, but he won’t say how much he paid the zoo.

* Agence France-Presse