Police in Brazil are hunting thieves with either nerves of steel or just plain stupid who knocked out a 47-stone lion, bundled it into a truck and sped off.
They put their lives into the possible jaws of death as they used dart guns to sedate the nine-year-old King of the Jungle and stole him from an animal sanctuary in Brazil.
Police were hunting the “mane” suspects, three men and a woman, who were mistaken for environmentalists dropping off an abandoned animal.
Oswaldo Garcia,who had been caring for the missing lion in the sanctuary on the outskirts of Monte Azul Paulista city, near Sao Paulo, since 2009, said:
“The main entrance and the cage door were smashed open.
“Whoever took Rawell knew what they were doing. Stealing a lion, especially one his size, is not easy.
“All I want is his safe return so he can lead the dignified life he enjoyed here.
“He was like a son to me. He was very docile.”
The sanctuary Rawell was taken from cares for around 250 abandoned and mistreated animals.
Police are working on the theory the beast, which eats five kilos of meat every day, was stolen to order.