A stray lion cub found by children in southern Russia has been handed over to the Rostov-on-Don Zoo after spending the night in a local police station.
Schoolchildren found the 7-month-old male lion on the steppe near the village of Seyatel in the Rostov region on Wednesday, news reports said.
Soon after, they called police who looked after the juvenile predator until he could be transported to the regional capital's zoo.
Local police initially speculated that the lion cub had escaped from a traveling circus, but on Thursday the Life News tabloid tracked down the cub's owner, Irina Kulikovskaya, who said the cub had escaped while she was transporting it in the trunk of her Volga car.
Kulikovskaya said that she had bought the cub from a resident of the Rostov region's Salsk district and that she had plans to set up a zoo in the city of Derbent in the Dagestan republic.
"The lion was meant to become the real star of the new zoo," Kulikovskaya told Life News, adding that she planned to visit the zoo to collect the cub in the coming days.