• Palestinian refugee Saad Eldeen Al-Jamal's son bids farewell to one of his father's two African lion cubs before the cubs leave Gaza through the Erez crossing between northern Gaza Strip and Israel, July 3, 2015.Reuters
  • Palestinian refugee Saad Eldeen Al-Jamal bids farewell to one of his two African lion cubs before the cubs leave GazaReuters

Two African lion cubs, Max and Mona, were moved from Gaza City to Jordan on Sunday after the Gazan family that took care of them could no longer afford their maintenance. 

The two lion cubs had become popular in Gaza, after a local, Saed Eldeen Al Jamal, took them from the Gaza zoo that was damaged during the Hamas-Israel war last year. 

The cubs were being taken care of by the family that lived modestly in a refugee camp in the border town of Rafah.

However, the family decided to give them to a wildlife sanctuary in Jordan as the cubs grew bigger and the cost of feeding them hit the family hard. 

The food for the lion cubs would cost the family 120 shekels ($32) a day, Jamal told AFP.

The cubs were supposed to be moved through the Israel-Gaza border on Friday, but after the Israeli side had closed, the lions remained in limbo, as Hamas temporarily refused to take them back into Palestinian territory, according to The Associated Press.

However, after several hours, the lion cubs were allowed entry back into Gaza where they stayed at a hotel till Sunday. 

British NGO Four Paws International facilitated the movement of the lion cubs from the Gazan family to Jordan through Israel.

Parting with the lion cubs, whom Jamal and his family treated as 'children', was emotional, as photos showed the family hugging and kissing the lions goodbye. 

"We're very sad. The two lions were like children to us," Jamal was quoted as saying by AFP. 

The family has reportedly sought help from the British charity to visit the cubs in Jordan later. 

Four Paws International had moved three lion cubs from the Gaza Zoo to Jordan last year, but says that there could be as many as 40 lions still living in war-torn Gaza.

According to Albawaba, nearly 45 lions are being kept as 'pets' by families in their homes in Gaza, posing a threat to the residents since the families are not trained caretakers.