17 March 2022

A brand new “Luxury Eco Lodge and Licenced Zoo” on the Western slopes of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania was brought to Blood Lions attention this week. At a time when South Africa is working so hard to prohibit captive wildlife interactions, other African countries are allowing the establishment of new facilities openly promoting unethical and inauthentic wildlife encounters.

This newly built luxury lodge advertises a “safari experience [to] live and play ethically and sustainably amongst lions, cheetahs, giraffes and elephants”. Where you can have “close-up and real-life encounters” with their “orphaned animals” that are part of their “animal sanctuary”.

It is not completely clear as to how many wild animal species are already on the property, but from photo evidence on their socials they seem to have habituated giraffes, zebras, Vervet and Colobus monkeys, ostriches, eland and three lion cubs that were ”rejected by their mother”.

Let’s look at some of the 🚩RED flags🚩:
  • Any animal sanctuary that allows human-wildlife interaction other than for veterinary purposes is not a sanctuary.
  • Lion cubs are very rarely rejected by their mothers, the most likely scenario is that they were prematurely removed from their mother to be hand-reared and habituated for commercial gain.
  • The SATSA guidelines on “Evaluating Captive Wildlife Attractions & Activities” state that “the interests of animals should not be subordinate to the benefits humans derive from their existence”. Meaning, if a captive wildlife facility clearly prioritises human interest(s), which can be financial, gratification, entertainment, or information, over the animal’s wellbeing, it can immediately be considered unethical.
  • Therefore, the SATSA guidelines put any facility that offers interaction with captive wildlife firmly in the ‘Avoid’ category. #ThinkBeforeYouGo
  • In South Africa, the High-Level Panel (an advisory Panel appointed by the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment) identified that the commercial captive predator industry damages South Africa’s reputation as a conservation and eco-tourism leader. This applies to all other African countries.
  • It is clear from the marketing language used that the owners/ operators have no understanding of ecology, conservation, or ethical and authentic tourism experiences.
  • The South African model has shown that where interactive captive wildlife activities exist, other commercial activities, such as canned hunting and the trade in live animals and their body parts, are likely to arise.

Any country that is privileged enough to have such diversity in wildlife in an array of incredible natural habitats, should not be issuing permits to establish zoos and captive wildlife facilities. The authorities also need to understand that this one facility can attract massive negative attention from around the world. The tourism industry, government agencies and the public can make a firm stand and say NO to captive wildlife interactions. Many organisations in the tourism industry have already done so through the Blood Lions Born to Live Wild campaign.

YOU can make a difference by following the actions below:

  • If you are a tourism operator, you can join our Born to Live Wild Tourism Campaign and Pledge against tourism attractions that contribute to the cycle of captive breeding, canned hunting and commercial exploitation of wild animal species.
  • If you are a young person who would like to be part of the change, you can sign our Youth Pledge and SAY NO to animal interactions and captive facilities that exploit wildlife. We use this pledge to support our campaign when we lobby the government for change.
  • If you are a member of the public who would like to make a difference, you can email Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) and list your objections to these newly established, unethical captive wildlife facilities.