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.
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.”
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.
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.