Horrifying images show neglected lions bred ‘to be petted by tourists’
Horrifying images have captured a shocking insight into ‘lion farms’ – which reportedly breed up to 12,000 animals a year for tourist attractions. Photographs taken in South Africa show the predators covered in mange after being severely neglected, reports the metro.co.uk. Hundreds of the lions are left almost entirely bald due to their poor, overcrowded enclosures. The breeding farms are being referred to by campaigners as a ‘snuggle scam’. The name comes from the fact that the farms supply lion cub petting attractions with young animals.
However, holidaymakers snuggling up to the cute cubs are left oblivious to the level of suffering they go through behind closed doors.
Officers at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found 108 neglected lions during an investigation at Pienika Farm in South Africa. Caracal, tigers, and leopards were also found living in the shocking conditions.
Audrey Delsink, Wildlife Director at Humane Society International/Africa, said: ‘Lion cubs are ripped from their mothers at just a few days old, to be hand-reared by paying volunteers from countries around the world such as the United Kingdom, who are misled into believing the cubs are orphans.
‘The cubs are exploited their whole lives, first as props by paying tourists looking for selfie shots whilst petting or bottle-feeding the animals, then later as part of ‘walking with lion’ safaris.’
Two of the cubs found at Pienika Farm were suffering from a neurological condition and were unable to walk, according to NSPCA inspector Douglas Wolhuter. They were rushed to a vet for further care.
Audrey Delsink, HSI/Africa Wildlife Director said: ‘We demand that the government shut down this industry once and for all; that is the only way brand South Africa can recover from this significant scourge.’