A COSTA Brava couple keeps a lion as a pet in their back yard – and it's perfectly legal, assures their local council.
The grown-up wild feline was adopted from a circus by the animal-loving pair when he was three months old, and is completely domesticated, according to mayor of Sant Jaume de Llierca (Girona province), Jordi Cargol.
At present, the couple does not have a licence to keep their unusual pet, but with Cargol's help, they have applied to the regional government and it is now just a case of waiting for the paperwork to arrive.
“It might seem strange, but the law does allow you to keep a lion in your home,” reveals Cargol, who assures that local authorities have always been fully aware of the animal's presence and have kept him under close scrutiny.
Predictably, his humans have named him Simba, and he mostly lives in a securely-fenced patio alongside the family home in the countryside, but also wanders more or less freely into the house.
Some residents in Sant Jaume – who have known about Simba's presence for some time – 'found it odd' and were 'a bit worried for their safety', Cargol explains.
But he says Simba is 'completely protected', lives in 'great conditions' and is 'properly cared for', as well as being in high-security 'accommodation' which means he cannot escape.
And having been hand-reared by humans from a young cub – humans who know what they are doing around wild felines – he is very tame, the mayor stresses.
The photograph shows Simba stretched out and relaxing along the kitchen worktop at his family home.