Peshawar: There’s a Mufasa and a Simba, but it’s 50-year-old Arab Gul who is the undisputed ‘lion king’ of the Muslim Town in Peshawar, capital of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
With three lions currently in Islamabad for training, Gul has a total of 11 big cats under his care.
It’s a love, he says, which he’s nurtured from childhood.
“I started rearing them four years ago with two white lions who were imported from Sri Lanka. White lions are a rare breed in the world. In Pakistan, two of them – Mufasa (male) and Simba (female) – are with me. A dealer imported them from Sri Lanka. Later, I bought them from him,” he said.
White lions are a rare breed in Pakistan, too, with only a few in Lahore. However, unlike Gul, no one keeps them at home.
That, however, doesn’t seem to bother residents of his locality who treat Gul like a celebrity for keeping unique pets at home.
Located along Dilazak road on the outskirts of Peshawar, his residence in Muslim Town is spread over an area of 0.375 acres and houses a separate place for each of the lions.
Feeding his “family members,” however, is no piece of cake, Gul says.
“In one week, we give them beef for four days and chicken for two, with a one day break. Each lion consumes about six kgs of beef and 10 kgs of chicken, in addition to one liter of milk on a daily basis,” he said.
After their scheduled meals, the lions are unchained for two hours every day for a walk in the residential lawns.
EnHajj Khan, one of Gul’s employees, is responsible for the lions’ care and said he’s never been afraid of taking care of the “king of the jungle.”
“I am working here from the past four years. I haven’t received any training but take care of them on my own,” Khan, 60, said, adding that’s it wonderful to see people visiting the house to see the lions for free.
Gul says he’s unperturbed by the flow of visitors who usually visit at noon.
“CCTV cameras ensure the animals’ security and I keep watch on my phones,” he said.