Warning: This story contains graphic photos.
KHARTOUM, Sudan — At an impoverished, forlorn zoo in Sudan's capital, the park's few remaining lions are starving in rusted cages — their ribs protruding, eyes glassy and skin flaccid, desperate for food and water.
The unsettling images, shared on social media by a local animal rights advocate, drew impassioned responses from thousands around the world. But it wasn't enough to save two lionesses at the Khartoum zoo, said local activist Zuhair al-Sarag.
"This is actually a crime," he said, adding that the park once teemed with animals. "Someone should be held accountable."
With the staff at the destitute Al-Qurashi Park, as the zoo in Khartoum is known, unable to feed and look after the animals, many have died off or were evacuated, leaving only three skeletal lions, including a lioness.
Locals concerned about the fate of the lions flocked to help recently, bringing food and medical items, despite the economic crisis gripping the country. Soaring food prices in Sudan triggered a mass protest movement last year that convulsed the large African country, ultimately ousting longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April.
"Many international organizations are willing to help" the lions, including an emergency rescue group expected in Sudan soon, said Osman Mohamed Salih, the first activist who appealed for help online.
While many abroad have tried to donate via crowdfunding sites, Salih noted that U.S. sanctions on Sudan have prevented the zoo from receiving funds through popular platforms, such as GoFundMe.
Photos: Emaciated lions at Sudan zoo
Warning: Graphic photos.
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