Speed Reads

It wasn't all bad

Lioness rescued from Syrian zoo gives birth in wildlife reserve

It took three weeks for Dana, a lion rescued from a defunct zoo in Aleppo, Syria, to make the journey to her new home in Jordan, and during her first night at the al-Ma'wa reserve, she gave birth to a lion cub named Hajar — Arabic for "the immigrant."

Dana was one of 12 animals, including four other lions, two bears, and two tigers, to leave Syria for Jordan, thanks to the efforts of the animal charity Four Paws. The team had been concerned she might give birth while in the cage she had to travel in; had that happened, Dr. Amir Khalil said, the cub probably would not have survived. The vet thinks Dana waited until Friday, when she arrived in a secure area, to finally have her cub. "She is a mom, she had the instinct," he told ABC News. "It's a miracle."

Not much is known yet about the cub, as it is bonding with Dana and hasn't been examined by Khalil. Its fur is white, which could change, and it is estimated to weigh 3.3 to 4.4 pounds. An ultrasound done in Turkey showed that Dana was carrying two cubs, and a follow-up ultrasound will reveal if she is still expecting, or if the second cub was born at the same time as Hajar and died. Dana and Hajar already have a strong bond, something Khalil is grateful to see. "After the dark," he said, "there is light." Catherine Garcia