Lion cub's legs deliberately broken so he can't run away from photos with tourists

Little Simba was just weeks old when he was taken from his mother and forced to work as a tourist attraction in Russia, subjected to "an ocean of pain" by his cruel captors    

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A lion cub's hind legs were deliberately broken so it could not run away while posing on Russian beaches for photos with tourists.

Vladimir Putin was so shocked that he personally ordered a criminal probe into the cruelty faced by Simba.

A deeply distressing video shows the helpless animal before surgery - and afterwards as he slowly and painfully learns again to walk.

The cub was just a few weeks old when he was taken from his mother and made to pose for pictures with tourists.

After exploiting the lion last summer, his owners deliberately broke his legs as he got older so that the animal could not run away.

 
 

Simba became ill and was "tortured and beaten" by his minders, badly injuring his spine, and on the point of death, say reports.

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The animal was dumped, hardly able to move, tethered in a dirty, cold barn in the Russian region of Dagestan.

"He was practically not fed, and for some reason in the frost water was constantly poured over him," said Yulia Ageeva, who led a rescue mission.

"This was a real hell."

 
 

Rescuers saved Simba from this nightmare and the lion was flown to specialist vet Karen Dallakyan, who said he had suffered "an ocean of pain from humans".

"Evil photographers break bones like this so that wild predators cannot escape and behave calmly for pictures (with tourists)," he explained.

He has operated on Simba and the cub is now able to walk again, although he's permanently deformed.

The lion also suffered pressure sores, intestinal obstructions, and atrophy of the muscles of the hind limbs.

 
 

Dallakyan told Putin about the scandal on a lockdown video-conference with ecologists, stressing: "We do not see any criminal case opened."

The Russian president said: "Thank you, I wrote down what you said."

The Kremlin leader promised to get law enforcement to act against the animal torturer and any associates.

Dallakyan, from Chelyabinsk, said that a criminal investigation is now underway.

The unnamed photographer who worked with Simba last summer in Sochi denied that he had tortured the animal, and said he had passed on the cub to new owners.

The vet said the cub's gradual recovery was a "miracle".

The video shows how the brave cub is receiving walking lessons - and responding now his legs are mended.

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