Border Police detectives and inspectors from the Nature and Parks Authority found an illegally-held lion cub in an apartment in the center of Israel on Wednesday.
In the last few weeks, multiple videos were posted on social media of the cub, who was nicknamed Abu Malek, in several secret locations as he was moved around between different people.
Border Police opened an undercover investigation into the videos and, together with the Nature and Parks Authority, carried out a raid on Wednesday and found the cub.
"For the last few weeks, all the unit's detectives rallied with the goal of finding the lion cub that was held illegally and whose videos became viral online," said Deputy Commander of the Central Unit in the Border Police South Command Rabia Kahlol. "The moment they got the 'golden information' regarding the location of the cub, the unit's detectives jumped into action and managed to break into the secret apartment in the south where the lion cub was being held."
Another Border Police commander told N12 on Thursday that the conditions under which the cub was being held were not befitting a lion and that he would never hold a dog under those conditions.
What will happen with Abu Malek?
The cub will undergo a series of medical tests over the weekend, but no announcement has been made regarding his future.
Cubs of the age of Abu Malek usually need their mother and siblings around for their social development as the lioness usually teaches her cubs how to hunt, and the cubs play with each other, creating a bond that will help them fit in with their pride.
Because the cub in question was separated from his family at a young age, there may be some difficulty introducing him to a pride which could prevent him from being able to join a zoo or safari, but he cannot be released back into the wild because he won't know how to hunt or protect himself.