Mandatory prerequisite #1

Why the need for mandatory prerequisite #1?

South Africa has very limited capacity to rehome lions in existing genuine sanctuaries or safe havens and many lion safe havens have already reached their ceiling. Right now, there is space to rehome about 30 lions immediately with an additional 170 lions in the medium-term with financial support.  

Mandatory prerequisite 1 – Humane euthanasia

Considering the lack of space in genuine sanctuaries for lions coming out of this voluntary exit process, there was a need for the panel to be pragmatic and to give healthy lions priority. They therefore developed a Quality of Life Assessment that evaluates the health of individual animals by scoring a wide range of physical and mental health aspects and making an ethically acceptable decision on the future of the lions involved in this voluntary exit process. This process identifies any compromised (old, diseased, and/or inbred) lions that may need to be humanely euthanised.

What is humane euthanasia?

Humane euthanasia is the most ethical and humane method to end an animal’s life with a minimal amount of pain and stress. The animal should first be immobilised by giving it anaesthesia before the appropriate drug can be administered. Euthanasia can only be carried out by a qualified and registered veterinarian and an euthanasia protocol was developed by the panel to help this process.

What lions would qualify?

Ideally humane euthanasia should only be performed to end the suffering of chronic or terminally ill animals and where quality of life can no longer be guaranteed. However, healthy lions may also need to be euthanised, as we know that sanctuary space in South Africa  is extremely limited. 

We should recognise that most lions in South Africa’s commercial captive industry are bred for the bullet. Humane euthanasia is a kinder way of ending their life than being shot in a “canned” hunt or shot through the brain to be killed for their bones, parts and derivatives.

What happens to the carcasses?

Once an animal has been euthanised, its remains need to be disposed of responsibly to limit the possibility of their bones, teeth, claws and/or skins to be available for legal and/or illegal trade. The panel developed a protocol for the disposal of carcasses, advising incineration by a legitimate commercial business.