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Image: Facebook/Shelley Mattocks
Image: Facebook/Shelley Mattocks

Keeper Karel Geurts watches on as the two lions approach each other. One is a lioness named Masrya, and she was once a caged promotional tool for her cruel former owners. The other is a four-month-old lion cub called Nero, who used to belong to a circus. They are both in need of company, but nobody could have guessed what happened when they met.

Image: Facebook/Shelley Mattocks
Image: Facebook/Shelley Mattocks

This initial meeting took place in early 2013, but the story of Masrya and Nero was a long time in the making, and it is still being told today. It all started, however, when a then-unknown lioness was spotted, caged, “at the side of a busy road.”

Image: Facebook/Shelley Mattocks
Image: Facebook/Shelley Mattocks

In fact, it wasn’t until this lioness had arrived at a lion foundation called Stichting Leeuw, which is located in the Netherlands, that she was given the name Masrya. She had made her way to Stichting Leeuw after a long journey from Egypt.

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Image: Facebook/Shelley Mattocks
Image: Facebook/Shelley Mattocks

And it was in Egypt that Masrya had spent the early part of her life as a pet before being purchased by a street trader. This trader used her for seemingly little more than as a promotional tool for his services and as a photography prop.

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