SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Police say a 660-pound lion has been stolen from an animal rehabilitation centre in southeastern Brazil.

Officer Claudio Roberto Marques said Friday that the 9-year-old lion named Rawell was stolen Thursday morning from the Sao Francisco de Assis shelter that cares for abandoned animals in the city of Monte Azul Paulista.

Marques says that neighbours reported that three men and a woman arrived at the shelter in a small truck carrying a cage before the lion disappeared.

The officer says the neighbours didn't think anything of it because people frequently bring injured and sick animals there.

Oswaldo Garcia Junior owns the shelter. He told the Globo TV network that he had been caring for Rawell for five years.

Phone calls to Garcia Junior seeking additional information rang unanswered.