To some the thought of taking a selfie with a lion, feeding a leopard, or petting a tiger might sound thrilling. To others it sounds dangerous or even cruel. More often than not those who visit the facilities that provide the animals do not see or even think about the suffering that allows them to take their souvenir photo.
Humane Society International/Africa refers to this as the “snuggle scam.”
Recently, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals investigated a farm in South Africa, and what they discovered was disgustingly heartbreaking.
According to HSI, when officials entered the farm they found 108 neglected lions covered in mange, along with caracal, tigers, and leopards. Two of the lion cubs appeared to be suffering from a neurological condition as well.
“Other issues such as small enclosures and inadequate shelter, no provision of water, overcrowding, and filthy and parasitic conditions were noted in the camps that contained the lions, caracals, tigers, and leopards,” Douglas Wolhuter, a senior inspector at the NSPCA told Times Live. “Twenty-seven of the lions had mange and the caracals were obese and unable to properly groom themselves.”
The two lion cubs were removed from the facility and authorities plan to investigate.
This particular facility reportedly breeds wild animals and sells them both locally and internationally, something which Audrey Delsink, Wildlife Director of HSI/Africa, calls a “vicious cycle of exploitation, from cradle to grave.”
“Lion cubs are ripped from their mothers at just a few days old, to be hand-reared by paying volunteers from countries around the world.”
Once the lion cubs outlive their time as a tourist attraction they are killed for their bones or sold so they can be killed by trophy hunters.
Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight for captive lion breeding, but if you want to help HSI has a petition you can sign to urge the Department of Environmental Affairs of South Africa to end this terrible practice.
Share this article if you’re outraged by the treatment of these lions and want to put a stop to captive lion breeding!