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Afghan Lion Roars his Last - 2002-01-26


One of the few remaining animals in the zoo in Afghanistan's capital -- a survivor of changing governments, Soviet occupation, communist rule, the Taliban and U-S bombing -- has died.

Marjan, the lame and half blind lion sometimes noted as a symbol of Afghan endurance, has succumbed to old age after nearly half a century.

Reuters news agency quotes his keeper as saying Marjan had not eaten for a few days and he was found dead in his cage today (Saturday).

The lion died just as his life had begun to improve. With the fall of the Taleban, a team from an international animal rescue mission arrived in Kabul to care for and feed Marjan and the few other remaining occupants of the zoo.

Several years ago when Marjan was healthy, a Taleban fighter climbed into his cage to demonstrate his courage. Marjan did what hungry lions do -- he killed and devoured the man.

A few days later the man's brother rolled a grenade into the cage. It exploded, blinding Marjan in one eye and leaving him permanently lame.

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