TWO lions rescued from neglected zoos in war zones in Iraq and Syria have been transported to South Africa to recover from physical and psychological trauma at a big cat sanctuary.

Fiona Miles, of the animal welfare group Four Paws, said the male lions have arrived in Johannesburg on a Qatar Airways flight after leaving an animal refuge in Jordan on Sunday.

The lions arrived emaciated, dehydrated and psychologically scarred in Jordan last year.

Now, four-year-old Simba and two-year-old Saeed are headed to the Lionsrock facility near the town of Bethlehem.

Some of the 80 lions at the facility came from a German circus and zoos in France, Romania and Congo. Others are from South African captive-bred lion operations that often earmark the predators for “trophy” killings by customers.