Man Rescues Lions, Welcomes Them as Companions in His Back Garden, Amidst Controversy Over Their ‘Killer’ Reputation

An animal lover who lives in a remote mountain town keeps two adult lions as pets much to the annoyance and criticism of his neighbours and friends, who he says think they are just ‘killers’.

Ales Basista, 53, from Stupava in the Czech Republic, has been keeping lions since 2012, and has done everything from nursing them back the health to playing with them in the garden.

His neighbours and friends meanwhile have been very critical of decision to keep and raise the lions, and many others around the world have disagreed with keeping lions as private pets.

Ales Basista has been raising lions for two years since he rescued a lion cub from a circus and, with the help of a hospital, nursed it back to health

Playful: The big cats are really just that – big cats, and relish playing in the garden with their owners

All grown up: The lions are now fully grown, and have formed their own mini-pride – but this comes with its ups and downs

Mr Basista rescued his first lion from a circus when it was seven months old, back in 2012.

The cub, named Alex, was born with deformities including a deformed spine.

At the time, Mr Basista was convinced that the lion cub would have died without his help.

A short while later, lioness Mijanka, just four weeks old at the time, joined the family at their home in the Czech Republic.

Purr-fect: The lions, such as Alex (pictured) are friendly and would never attack their owners, but they do sometimes accidentally scratch them

Huge: The lions have outgrown their earlier and more cub-like beginnings, but still remain just as playful and enjoy socialising with Mr Basista and his family

Dangerous: Sometimes the lions, during play-fighting, common among adult lions, cause their owners to suffer scratches or slight injuries

Mr Basista’s daughter Sarka with lioness Mijanka. She explains that their relationship has changed since the lions’ childhood from friend to sometime competitor

Mr Basista remembers Alex’s road to recovery, and especially how his deformity could have possibly killed him.

He said: ‘Alex was very ill and suffered from a twisted spine when he first came here – he had to spend four months in hospital.

‘But now he is in good condition and is thankfully okay.

‘I think if he stayed in the circus he would have died because they would not have been able to care for him.’

Earlier days: Mr Basista with one of the lions during their adolescence – they have since grown to their full weight and height

Tiny: One of the lions as a cub, playing with a pet parrot in the garden – the lions have grown up around their human owners and so are very social with them

When they were cubs, owning both Alex and Mijanka was like owning a pair of slightly larger housecats – but now they are fully grown, it is very different

Both lions are from different areas of the world – Alex (pictured) is a male Barbary lion weighs 250 kg

Alex is a male Barbary lion weighs 250 kg, and Mijanka, a female Somali lion, weighs 100 kg.

Together they eat more than 200 kg of meat a month, which could be made up from 70 chickens, nearly an entire cow, or two whole pigs.

Mr Basista said: ‘They eat beef, chicken, pork and the wild animals from the nearby forest.

‘Also for a treat I like to give them cream and ice cream which they absolutely love.’

Together both Alex and Mijanka eat more than 200 kg of meat a month – the equivalent of almost an entire cow

Occasionally the lions will play fight together, and while sometimes Mr Basista will join in, he has to occasionally step back as the lions might get carried away

Mr Batista believes his raising on the lions is about preserving the species – which could be in danger of becoming endangered, for future generations

Mr Basista said: ‘A lot of people don’t agree with people keeping lions in private hands but I think it’s important to protect the genetic code of these animals’

Mr Basista first rescued lion Alex when he was a cub at only seven months old, from a circus. He claims that Alex would have likely died if it weren’t for his and the hospital’s care

Mijanka joined Alex in the mini-pride months after, and they formed a tiny family of eventually massive pets

Moving from outside in the garden, to inside their house in the Czech Republic is a slightly different transition, considering they are fully grown lions

Alex the lion, now fully grown, can be seen with a proper mane around his neck, which denotes his maturity and dominance

Mr Basista claims that the people who criticize the lions have the wrong idea about lions, and think they’re only killers

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