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PICS: Lion cub in the club? Baby animals are not toys!

Cape Town – The world has just celebrated World Lion Day on 11 August 2016 – but now this incident has surfaced.

Concerned animal lovers have caused an uproar about a baby lion that has been passed around for photo opps in Canadian night club Lavelle, with pics of the cub having been shared on Instagram.

The Dodo reports the local animal welfare organisation Animal Justice, as well as the Toronto Animal Services (TAS) have been made aware of the photos. Animal justice says on Facebook, “Toronto Animal Services is investigating after we reported Instagram selfies of a lion cub being paraded around the nightclub Lavelle. It’s illegal to possess a lion in Toronto.”

Animal Justice’s executive directer, Camille Labchuk says, “It’s illegal in Toronto to parade exotic animals around nightclubs for marketing purposes. Baby animals aren’t toys. This lion cub should be with her mother, not used as a prop for selfies.”

She further told CP24 “It’s seriously detrimental to the welfare of these animals to be owned by private people and taken around to events like this. It’s very dangerous to have these wild animals. They are not tame they are not domesticated they’re not like house cats.”

“If you can hug, ride or take a selfie with a wild animal, chances are cruelty is involved — so don’t do it,” Jan Schmidt-Burbach from World Animal Protection (WAP) told the Dodo.

Concerned animal lovers on Facebook cannot agree more.

Lavelle spokesperson said a guest brought the lion cub into the night club and that this was not arranged by the club. The guest was soon asked to leave.

According to Labchuk, it is alleged that the lion belongs to the Bowmanville Zoo in Ontario, owned by infamous Hollywood animal trainer, Michael Hackenberger. Hackenberger’s gained a reputation after videos showed him whipping a tiger during training.

Labchuk pointed out that the lion being passed around in the club is said to wear the same collar as a cub from the zoo, where lion cub encounters are also offered to visitors and animals are known to be rented out for events.

In April, Hackenberger received five counts of animal cruelty against him by the Ontario SPCA. He might face two years of jail time, a $66 000 fine(about R880 000 at R13.37/$) and a ban on owning animals.

A South African sanctuary Emoya has recently been instrumental in helping a group of circus lions as part of Operation Spirit of Freedom. The 33 lions were rescued by British charity Animal Defenders International (ADI) from South American circuses and were expected to live a better life in SA. However, recently two have died after succumbing to a naturally occurring toxin. Emoya was opened by Savannah Heuser in 2012 and it has no breeding policy, nor is it open to the public.

Over and above this, the prolific documentary Blood Lions has sought to blow the lid off the issued associated with the lion cub and canned lion hunting industry. Most recently

Most recently the Fair Trade Association of South Africa has just launched a new set of volunteer criteria to help tourism businesses wanting to avoid the dark side of voluntourism.