The Explorers Club, New York, December 2, 6:00-8:30 p.m.  

NEW YORK, N.Y.  (November 10, 2015) Non-profit foundation Empowers Africa is hosting a special screening of the new documentary film, Blood Lions™, which exposes the shocking captive lion breeding and canned hunting industry in South Africa. This will be the first public screening of the full 85-minute documentary in the United States.

The fundraiser will take place at The Explorers Club, 46 E 70th St, New York, starting with cocktails at 6:00 p.m. The special screening will be followed by a panel discussion on South Africa’s captive lion industry and its links to canned hunting, voluntourism and the burgeoning lion bone trade with Asia, featuring Dr Andrew Venter, CEO of Wildlands, Dr Luke Hunter, President of Panthera, and Ian Michler, Blood Lions™ consultant, and lead character.

“We are hosting this fundraiser to support the Blood Lions™ campaign to raise awareness and put a halt to this brutal and unethical industry,’’ says Krista Krieger, executive director of Empowers Africa.  “If hunters, volunteers and tourists stopped supporting South Africa’s commercial lion breeders, it would go a long way towards closing their facilities down.”

According to leading South African NGOs Wildlands and Endangered Wildlife Trust, as well as the respected New York based NGO, Panthera, captive lion-breeding does nothing for lion conservation. Not a single captive-bred, hand-reared lion has been successfully released into the wild. Instead, every day in South Africa, two to three captive-bred, effectively tame, lions are killed in canned lion hunts.  Helping to fuel this industry are eager volunteers who unwittingly pay up to $1,000 per week to hand-rear lion cubs that have been forcibly removed from their mothers after birth.

Says Dr. Andrew Venter, CEO of Wildlands: “The scale of the industry is huge, with some 4,000 lion cubs born in captive breeding facilities in South Africa each year. Unbelievably, in South Africa canned lion hunting is legal, generating some US$10 million per year.’’

Dr Luke Hunter, President of Panthera, says the growth in Asian demand for lion bones (used as a proxy for tiger bones in traditional Chinese medicines) has created yet another revenue stream. South African lion breeders export over 1,000 lion skeletons annually for the lion bone trade in Asia. Hunter says: “There is absolutely no medicinal value in lion parts – you might as well consume cow for all the health benefits of lion bone. South Africa’s legal trade only fuels the demand for big cat body parts, providing a ready market for cats poached in the wild.’’

In order to reserve a seat for the Blood Lions™ event on 2 December, a donation of $150 can be made for regular seating or a $250 for VIP seating. “All donations from the screening will be granted from Empowers Africa to Wildlands to support the Blood Lions™ campaign. Funds raised will be used to recruit additional NSPCA Wildlife Unit inspectors to prevent abuse in the captive lion industry and to support wild lion conservation in South Africa,” Krieger says.

 “We are thrilled to be supported by Empowers Africa in New York,” says Blood Lions™ co-producer Pippa Hankinson of Regulus Vision. “It’s been four years since I embarked on this project and I am determined to see an end to this cruel industry. As Martin Luther King Jr. famously said: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”.

For tickets for the event, click here. http://bit.ly/bloodlions.