NSPCA slams the breeding of cute cubs

2013-08-21 13:03
Three white lion cubs are presented to the public for the first time at the city zoo in Buenos Aires. (Eduardo Di Baia, AP, file)

Three white lion cubs are presented to the public for the first time at the city zoo in Buenos Aires. (Eduardo Di Baia, AP, file)

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Cape Town - Breeding programmes that show off predator cubs to the public do not serve either conservation or protection of the animals, a national organisation has asserted.

"Captive bred predators have absolutely no benefit to the conservation or protection of wild animals," said Ainsley Hay, manager of the Wildlife Protection Unit of the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA).

She said that the cute cubs may appeal to people, but they are unpredictable.

"Unfortunately, supporting human interaction with predator babies encourages people to own them as pets because they are seen as cute, cuddly and safe. In reality, these are wild animals that can be both dangerous and destructive."

Lions are territorial animals and will attack if a human approaches, which the animals may interpret as a provocation.

Financial motives

In 2010, 59-year-old Peter Evershed was mauled by five lions while showering under a tree at the Chitake Springs bush camp, a wildlife viewing area, near the Mana Pools nature reserve.

Canadian teenager Lauren Fagen was mauled when she tried to kiss a lion through the bars at the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

According to the NSPCA, financial motives are the main driver for the practice of removing cubs allegedly abandoned by lionesses to be put on public display.

"Although lion breeders and captive lion facilities may say that lionesses do not look after the cubs well, the cubs are often forcibly removed for financial gain for some extra 'cuddles'.

"In actual fact, lions are very good parents and are fiercely protective. It’s unlikely that a facility will always have several baby cubs on hand for ‘petting’ due to parental abandonment and is probably a result of the growing captive bred lion industry," the organisation said.

Many films such as Madagascar and The Lion King though animated, may have an impact in creating the message that wild animals are cute.

Hay said that institutions that breed wild animals for human entertainment were harmful to both people and the predators.


"Facilities that breed wild animals for the purpose of removing their offspring to enable human interactions for profit are only fulfilling a recreation role; there is no educational or conservation message. People only learn that this is a cute wild animal that can be controlled for human entertainment."

According to National Geographic, exotic animals kept as pets in the US have resulted in 543 human injuries and 75 deaths.

Some of the deaths attributed to big cats are a consequence of the animals not being adequately fed or abused.

The NSPCA urged the public to avoid visiting facilities where wild animals were on public display.

"Although often with the best of intentions, by supporting these facilities, people are inadvertently supporting the practice of animal exploitation for profit and entertainment," said Marcelle Meredith, executive director of the NSPCA.

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Read more on:    nspca  |  animals

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