Breeding cruelty - how tourism is killing Africa's lions

International animal charity exposes the cruelty of lion parks

TORONTO, Aug. 10, 2015 /CNW/ - Cecil was one of thousands of lions whose welfare and survival is under threat from unethical tourism practices throughout Africa, reveals World Animal Protection in a report launching today (August 10).

Many tourists are unwittingly creating a demand that subjects lions to a lifetime of misery from the moment they are born.

Lion parks are increasingly popular attractions where tourists can get up close for a 'once in a lifetime' encounter with wild lions in captivity. The cubs, intensively bred for these parks, are taken from their mothers, mistreated and used as props for vacation 'selfies' – all in the name of entertainment. This is big business and the number of captive-bred lions in South Africa has almost doubled since 2005 to at least 5,800 animals.

World Animal Protection has major concerns about the welfare of cubs in lion parks:

  • Lion cubs are separated from their mothers, sometimes only a week after they are born
  • Young cubs are presented to tourists and mishandled hundreds of times a day
  • Cubs are typically punished using pain and fear to stop aggressive, unwanted behaviour
  • Lions are often kept in small concrete enclosures and can be fed an inadequate diet – which doesn't even meet their basic needs
  • These conditions can cause chronic stress making them more susceptible to disease

World Animal Protection also fears for the fate of adult lions who have become too large and dangerous for direct contact with tourists. Unlike captive conservation programs, commercial lion parks do not help to boost wild populations as their lions can never be safely released into the wild.

Instead, adult lions are either euthanized, kept in increasingly crowded captive conditions, or may be sold to zoos, lion farms or even a private collector for profit. Lion parks deny supplying captive bred lions for 'canned' lion hunting, however most possess little knowledge of what happens to lions after they have been sold.

Josey Kitson Executive Director at World Animal Protection Canada says: "It is entirely credible that the lion cubs from your vacation 'selfie' may become the same animals that are later shot by trophy hunters.

"Many tourists are unaware that they could be fuelling an industry that harms animals; but by refusing to visit lion parks and instead paying to see animals in the wild, together we can help end the demand that keeps this cruelty alive."

World Animal Protection wants Canadians to stand with them to ask the tourism industry and governments to stop the exploitation of wildlife for entertainment. They also want tourists to commit to never visiting attractions that use wild animals. Find out more.

Notes to editors:

  • High resolution photography and B-Roll is available on request
  • For further information and interviews with spokespeople please contact
    Beth Sharpe  bethsharpe@worldanimalprotection.ca  T: 1 416 369 0044

SOURCE World Animal Protection

Image with caption: "Adult male lion on the plains of the Masai Mara national reserve in Kenya. World Animal Protection believes that wild animals belong in the wild. (c)Andy Rouse/naturepl.com (CNW Group/World Animal Protection)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20150810_C5650_PHOTO_EN_474467.jpg

For further information: Beth Sharpe, bethsharpe@worldanimalprotection.ca, T: 1 416 369 0044, M: 1 647 268 8122


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