Unlike many people who might not even dare to approach wild animals, Iraqi Ghali al-Marajlah has spent the past 10 years raising lions at his house and in a park he owns in the City of Basra. Marajlah believes that over time, lions become a part of the family like pets or birds usually raised in houses.
"Our park owns eight adult lions aged over 10 year
…four males and four females," the lion lover told Reuters. A lion is worth between $6,000 and $10,000. Marajlah, who sold 62 lions he raised over the past decade, chose African lions because they easily adapt to their surroundings.
"Raising a lion starts from its early years. When it is born until it's getting older, you keep communicating with it. When it makes any inappropriate act, you shout at it because you cannot predict its reaction as it's a predatory animal. They could attack me when they want to eat or mate. But I know it well because it kind of respects me," he explained.
The Iraqi man keeps the lions at his house until they turn three, then, he moves them to his park, where he hosts visitors who pay $2 to see these wild animals.
"One month or 45 days after its birth, we take the lion from its mother and bring it to the house. We raise it there until it gets used to people and children, becomes a member of the family, and turns into a pet," he said.