In 2005, an Ethiopian girl was kidnapped and beaten by seven men until a pride of lions chased her attackers off. The lions then stayed and defended her until help arrived.
This story was covered by international media such as BBC News and NBC News in 2005. According to BBC News, the 12-year-old girl was abducted by seven men on her way home from school in June 2005. The men had held the girl for a week in the remote south-west.
Then, when police tracked the men as they were trying to escape with the girl, the abductors encountered three African lions who chased them off. It has been reported that they were repeatedly beating her before the lions. The lions stayed with the girl without harming her for half a day.
The story had spread like wildfire after BBC quoted a local policeman, sergeant Wondmu Wedaj, who said, “They stood guard [for half a day] until [police and family] found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest.”
“If the lions had not come then it could have been much worse. Often these young girls are raped and severely beaten to force them to accept the marriage,” Wedaj said. Police had caught four of the men, but were still looking for three others.
However, many lion experts doubted the credibility of the story. BBC News quoted a few wildlife experts on the same report. They said the lions were probably preparing to eat the girl but were intercepted by the police and others. Another expert said the lions might have spared the girl because her crying may have sounded similar to the mewing of lion cubs.
International fact checker website Truth or Fiction called the story disputed. There could be different interpretations for the lions’ behavior, but in Africa, the incident was widely reported as a miracle.