Caged‚ kicked lion cub 'pet' to be rehomed in SA
It was a sight on social media that horrified animal lovers: a man kicking and beating a tiny lion cub somewhere in France.
Authorities immediately launched an investigation that led them to a flat where they found the half-starved and cowering animal locked inside a small cage in October 2017.
The cub was being kept as an exotic pet in the suburb of Noisy-le-Sec in Paris.
Now‚ six months later‚ an international wildlife charity is leading the charge to raise enough money to pay for a 10,000km journey to rehome the lion‚ since named King‚ in South Africa.
Born Free is planning to transport King from Belgium‚ where he was given a temporary home at the Natuurhulpcentrum rescue centre‚ to its big-cat sanctuary at the Shamwari Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape. The sanctuary is home to 16 lions and leopards that have been rescued from captive conditions.
Born Free co-founder and trustee Virginia McKenna OBE said: “Have we learnt nothing over the years? How can we not understand that keeping wild animals in cages is not just cruel‚ but shameful? Lions are known as kings of the jungle. This little king‚ sadly‚ will never wear his crown‚ but at least we can give him love and respect and a natural environment to roam and rest in. That is the least he deserves‚ and I hope people will help us write a happy ending to this story.”
Firefighters involved in rescuing the cub from captivity in the flat posted images of it cowering in a dirty cage. On their Facebook page‚ Pompiers de Paris said: “This is a cub detained by an individual in his home … It is important to remind everyone that wild animals are neither domestic animals nor toys and are subject to specific regulations.”
The man who kept him in a cage was arrested on charges related to illegally keeping a wild animal‚ as well as animal abuse.
Born Free’s head of animal welfare and captivity‚ Dr Chris Draper‚ said: “Whether wild-caught or captive-bred‚ wild animals retain their wild instincts and their often complex social‚ behavioural and environmental needs - needs that are impossible to meet in a domestic environment.
“It is high time that we stop viewing exotic wild animals simply as objects to own‚ and start considering their welfare - and the risks they may sometimes pose to us. It should be abundantly clear that the neverending demand for increasingly exotic and dangerous wild animals in the pet trade needs to stop.”
The charity plans to transport the lion in a custom-built crate‚ by road and rail‚ to London’s Heathrow airport‚ from where he will fly to Johannesburg and then board a charter flight to Port Elizabeth. The final leg of his journey will be by road to Shamwari.