Lions left to starve with bones poking out of skin as they suffer abuse at zoo

Five lions were left to starve at a zoo where the wild beasts were kept in appalling conditions in Sudan.

The emaciated African lions were so thin their bones and spines appeared to poke out from their skin in a shocking series of pictures shared by an animal rights campaign group.

One lion, who looked to be a bag of "skin and bones" is now believed to have passed away.

Campaigners have now launched a petition to rescue the starving big cats in Sudan's capital of Khartoum.

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Campaign leader Osman Salih wrote: “I was shaken when I saw these lions at the park –their bones are protruding from the skin.

“I urge interested people and institutions to help them.”

It is believed the animals lost two-thirds of their weight in recent weeks as Sudan is gripped by an economic crisis.

Essamelddine Hajjar, a manager at the privately-funded park told AFP: “Food is not always available so often we buy it from our own money to feed them."

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It is believed one of the lions that received veterinary treatment died on Monday after attempts to revive her with a drip-feed.

Rotten meat was allegedly seen covered in flies near the creatures rusty enclosures, report The Guardian.

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A campaign under the hashtag #SudanAnimalRescue calling to help save the lions is being shared online by Sudanese citizens.

African lions are noted as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

There are believed to be only 20,000 left in the wild.

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