Have you ever wondered why South Africa seems to have so many captive lion cubs, in what are known as ‘lion parks’?
The reason, in my opinion, is one that we all need to face up to: IT’S A SCAM.
The still-growing lion cub petting industry masks a sinister legal industry in South Africa. Playing with cute little lion cubs is the tip of the iceberg – it’s what you don’t see that defines this abusive industry.
When tourists and volunteers visit one of the numerous ‘lion parks’ in South Africa and enter the play pens of young orphan cubs, their instinct is to question the situation. What? Why are so many lion cubs being orphaned? And, almost without exception, they are told a lie – that the cubs’ mothers died or abandoned them. This lie is repeated again and again – in marketing material, press releases and hashtags – so much so that even good, caring people repeat the mantra and become party to the lie, and the scam. You see, these lion cubs are forcibly removed from their mothers – to feed what has become a lucrative the lion cub petting machine.
We can all do the research. I’ve done it for five years, both as an animal advocate and consultant in the tourism industry. Spend 5 minutes on Instagram and see for yourself. There are thousands of images of young, motherless lion cubs (plus cheetahs and even tigers) and all of them are being interacted with by tourists and volunteers.
How could it be that there are so many big cat mothers out there suddenly willing to abandon their cubs?
This does not add up. Right?