Tourist and volunteers often do not know that they are visiting a park that is involved in the canned hunting industry, so, how do you recognize a ‘bad park’ or breeding facility. Please ask yourself these questions:
- Do they have many small cubs?
- Are you allowed to hug the cubs and walk with them?
- Do they take the cubs away from their mother?
- Do they have a special breeding program?
- Do they have much older male Lions?
- Are the costs high to get in, or for a picture with a lion?
- Are there many volunteers around?
If you can answer yes to most of these questions then it is most likely it is a breeding farm that participates in canned hunting.
Breeding facilities advertise with cub petting, on their website you see pictures with tourists petting cubs. Realize that when you pet a cub you are enriching and supporting the canned lion industry. The same applies to any other interaction with wild animals.
When you visit a breeding facility, there are always a lot of cubs around which you can pet, walk and make pictures with. Also they have a lot of old male lions, because hunters love the big male lions with their manes. And a breeding facility often has a lot of volunteers walking around. Lionesses are forced to breed repetitively at such a facility and when the cubs are born they are removed from their mothers when they are around 3-10 days old. A true sanctuary will never have breeding animals and never have cubs all year around; they only have cubs when they needed to be rescued. Also there is never a possibility to interact with any animal.
It is also not clear where the cubs go to when they are too big, usually when they are around 2 years and older. This is the age when the lions are not manageable anymore and to dangerous for the tourist and volunteers. The animal keepers often tell the story that they put the animals back into the wild, but this is not possible and never happened before. A lot of these breeding facilities also have animals that do not live in Africa, like tigers, these never survive in the wild when they release them. So these stories are not true. And if the animals aren’t sold to hunters, they will live in a small cage for the rest of their life.
All these projects are not international recognized and the animals are not officially registered, like zoo animals. The SA government promotes the canned lion hunting industry, so do not be deceived by tourism brochures, which publicise cub petting or walking with lions.
Often a lot of white lions are bred in these breeding facilities. This is also a sign you are in the wrong place. In the wild these lions are very rare and that is why the white lions are much sought after by hunters.