JERASH, Jordan (AP) — Two tigers and a bear named Baloo started a new life in a wildlife reserve in northern Jordan on Sunday.
They are among 25 large animals, many rescued from smugglers, who are being transferred to the 150-hectare (370-acre) Al-Ma'wa Reserve near the town of Jerash over three days, ending Monday.
Heli Dunger of the Austria-based international animal charity Four Paws said the rescued animals— 17 lions, five wolves, two tigers and a bear — all "have a horrific past."
Two lion cubs came from the Gaza Strip to Jordan last year, while another pair of cubs was rescued when Jordanian authorities arrested smugglers who advertising the two on Facebook.
Jordanian authorities confiscate hundreds of animals from dozens of species each year, including pythons, crocodiles and turtles. Animals are smuggled through the kingdom from Iraq and Saudi Arabia, according to the Jordanian Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature.
On Sunday, veterinarians hit Baloo, a Syrian white bear, with two pink-feathered tranquilizer darts to prepare him for his 55-kilometer (34-mile) truck ride from the Jordanian capital of Amman to the wildlife reserve.
Once tranquilized, he underwent a medical check, including an ultrasound and an eye scan. Ten workers then loaded the slumbering bear into a transport cage that was lifted by crane onto a flatbed truck, next to two tigers.
At Al-Ma'wa, the animals groggily walked through their new paddocks, seeking shade beneath pine trees.
"These animals, these tigers and lions, can once again be tigers and lions," Dunger said.