Some African wildlife parks that tout their lion conservation efforts are actually exploiting their animals.
It's a vicious cycle. Lion breeders remove cubs from their mothers in order to induce a new breeding cycle. They rent the cubs to tourist parks that offer visitors the chance to handle or be photographed with the cubs. But these cubs are often declawed and lacking teeth in order to be harmless. They are subsequently sold to big game hunting reserves for "canned hunts."
Antelope Park, in Zimbabwe, charges about £20 for a 90-minute lion encounter it describes as “not just a very privileged photo opportunity, [but] the chance for you to become a conservationist”.
The Sunday Times, however, has learnt that, far from being released into the wild, as many as 59 lion cubs raised at Antelope Park have been sold to big-game-hunting operations to be shot for sport.
So-called “canned hunting”, where rich trophy-hunters pay thousands of pounds to shoot big game in fenced enclosures, is big business in southern Africa. The price of shooting a lion bred in captivity ranges from about £9,000 to £16,000, and the breeders who supply the trade are struggling to keep up with demand.
Any place that offers an opportunity to "hang out" with lions sounds suspicious to me. These are not preserves for wild animals, but petting zoos instead.
Photo by WildImages.