LANSERIA – The Lion and Safari Park in Lanseria is still allowing visitors to pet lion cubs at their reserve, despite stating publicly last year that the practice would stop, claimed the Blood Lion Campaign.

When contacted for comment, the Lion and Safari Park confirmed that although the cub interaction had been stopped once the park moved premises in July, this caused a dramatic drop in the number of visitors, who instead just went to other places where cub interaction was still possible.

“We are not competing on a level playing field and unless our competitors also stop the cub interaction, the massive R100-million investment in the new facility and the survival of our business will be at stake,” said Rodney Fuhr, CEO of the park in a written statement. “Reluctantly, we have no choice but to temporarily re-introduce cub interaction.
“In light of our commitment and determination to eradicate this activity we are willing to join with, and help, other organisations and the government to ban cub petting altogether. We will give our full support to this cause and help to lobby the authorities to introduce legislation as soon as possible.”
But the decision has been criticised by animal activists such as the Blood Lions campaign, who argue that such interactions have a negative effect on the animals.
“Blood Lions adds their voice to those who condemn the Lion Park for going back on their commitment to end animal exploitation practices such as cub petting,” the Facebook post said.
“In what is clearly a decision based solely on financial considerations, it once again highlights that the vast majority of South African predator facilities exist purely as a business opportunity. It also reaffirms our stance that all breeding for non-conservation purposes must be stopped.”

INITIAL REPORT: 16 August 2016 – 12pm

On Tuesday, 16 August the Blood Lions Facebook page posted a message claiming that the Lion and Safari Park was still offering guests the opportunity to pet, hold and interact closely with the animals, even though it had promised in July last year that people would no longer be allowed to do so from this year onwards.

There were also photos attached to their post that showed children cradling and cuddling the cubs, although it is not certain where or when these photos were taken.

“Blood Lions adds their voice to those who condemn the Lion Park for going back on their commitment to end animal exploitation practices such as cub-petting,” the Facebook post said.

“In what is clearly a decision based solely on financial considerations, it once again highlights that the vast majority of South African predator facilities exist purely as a business opportunity. It also reaffirms our stance that all breeding for non-conservation purposes must be stopped.”

We are currently contacting the Lion and Safari Park in a bid to get comment. Updates will follow as more information becomes available.

The Lion Park has been involved in previous controversy including a widely publicized attack